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nottingham hip-hop future of the left Sylvester anfang II dirty projectors 



issue 46 



771744 M 243039 

June 2009 




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STmothsuperrainbow £1 Q here and 

£1U eating us 

reteased 15/06/09 


buy your cds, dvds and books from fopp - if they suck we'll give you a swap or your lolly* 

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Goods must be in the condition as sold, both the sleeve/case, disc or spine/pages. We reserve the right to refuse this offer. This offer in no way affects your statutory rights. 
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music film + books 

the best titles @ simple prices suck_it_and_see I 


8 Graffiti Island 

10 Danger, The Brownies 

12 Alak, Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve 

14-15 Guided Tour: Dirty Projectors 

16 Nite Jewel 

18 Read Labels: Rompepistas, Electricity In Our 


20-21 Singles Club: Jarvis Cocker, The Legends, 

Helen Love 

22 When We Meet: Athens Boys Choir, 

The Coat Hangers, Le B 

24 Sharon Van Etten, Playlist: Relapse 



30 Being And Somethingness: Learning 

To Fight 

82 The Final Revenge of. . . Everett True 


32-33 Sylvester Anfang II 

34-37 Speech Debelle 

38-39 What I Meant To Say: Future Of The Left 

40-44 Constellation Records 

46-49 Nottingham Hip-Hop 


6-7 No Fun Fest 

50-51 Fischerspooner, Jeffrey Lewis 

50-51 Hinterland, Mi Ami 

56-57 FESTIVAL PREVIEW Green Man, 

Camera Obscura 

60-61 LIVE PREVIEW A Hawk And A Hacksaw 


60-61 Sonic Youth 

62 Meanderthals, Ada, Tony Allen 

64 Thee Oh Sees, Wavves, Crocodiles 

66 James Blackshaw, Cursive, Dinosaur Jr 

68 Tortoise, The Gossip, Kid 606 

70-71 Hecker, John Wiese, Fire On Fire 

72-73 Little Boots, Major Lazer, Tussle 

74-75 Tara Jane O'Neil, The Soundcarriers, 

Sunset Rubdown 

76-77 REISSUES Flipper, Maurizio Bianchi, 


78-79 REISSUES Blind Blake And The Royal 

Victoria Calypsos, Holly Golightly, BertJansch 


80 BOOKS Muumuu House 

81 COMICS & DVD The world of web comics, 
Dub Echoes 

Photography: Michael Muniak 

Welcome to the final edition of Plan £ magazine. 

When work began on the first issue of Plan # in 2004, 
the idea of a new, independently published music magazine 
writing across genres seemed like a brave, idealistic and 
potentially stupid idea, flying in the face of received market 
wisdom that music journalism was atrophying, that print 
magazines were on the way out, and that only the specialist 
press would survive the digital revolution. Five years on, and 
it still feels brave, idealistic, and possibly stupid - yet we've 
proved time and time again that it can be done. That a well- 
written, designed, illustrated and photographed monthly 
magazine can be produced that celebrates underground 
music while avoiding snobbery and parochialism. That music 
criticism has many voices, not all of them white, male and 
schooled in indie lore. That it is possible to document those 
musical communities- Nottingham hip-hop; Baltimore DIY - 
which thrive away from the mainstream media spotlight. 
That a serious music magazine can be funny. For all these 
things, and loads more, we are very, very proud. 

As Plan ffs identity has grown, though, the position of 
the physical cultural product has become less secure and the 
logistics of getting a heavy paper magazine into the hands of 
the people that want to read it in a world of dwindling record 
shops, slashed marketing budgets, closed record labels, 
increasing postage costs and information saturation is 
becoming harder and harder. For all that we are independent, 
the model on which magazines like Plan #are built is 
inextricably linked to the recorded music market, to patterns 
of releases and sales which are, as we all know, currently in 
freefall. We have little interest in switching over to web 
publishing - PlanB\s a print magazine, first and foremost - 
and nor are we able to make the cuts in staff, content and 
print quality that would enable us to continue. So we're 
quitting while we're ahead, with new projects on the horizon 
in 201 0, and an online archive of back issues to be launched 
as a resource for readers and contributors. 

There are many people that we need to thank. Firstly, 
everyone who's ever contributed to the magazine, interned, 
or subbed for us. The original editorial team(s): David 
McNamee, Gracelette, Daniel Trilling, Stewart Gardiner, Beth 
Capper and media editors Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Katrina 
Dixon, SF Said, Nick Bradshaw, Kieron Gillen and Alistair 
Fitchett. Art director Andrew Clare, and photo editors Sarah 
Bowles and Cat Stevens, who gave the magazine so much of 
its visual identity. Section editors Lauren Strain, Stevie Chick 
and kicking_k, responsible for uncovering so much of the 
music that made Plan B what it was. Chris Houghton, Plan B's 
original publisher, who did much to bring the magazine to 
life in the beginning, and Richard Stacey, who has been an 
invaluable assistant publisher throughout.The roving Everett 
True, without whom none of this would have ever happened. 
And -schmaltz-you the reader, who made it all worthwhile. 
Louis Pattison and Frances Morgan 


156-158 Gray's Inn Road 



020 7278 5070 

Publisher: Frances Morgan 020 7278 5070 
Assistant Publisher: Richard Stacey 07989 774 058 
Advertising: Nick Taylor 07941 715 815 

Publisher-At-Large: Everett True 

Printed by Stones The Printers 


Warners Group Distribution (newsagents, 

retail chains, international) 01 778 391 1 94 

Cargo Records (independent record shops) 

Plan B is published by Plan B Publishing Ltd 

ISSN 1744-2435 

the stockists' list and subscriber info. You can 
ask independent newsagents to order it at the 
counter, or email 
Plan B is now available for digital subscription at 

Editor: Louis Pattison 

Art Director: Andrew Clare 
Photo Editor: Cat Stevens 

The Void/Lives: kicking_k 
Albums/Preview: Lauren Strain 
Media: Louis Pattison 

Website: James 

Events: Ben Webster planbmagazineevents® 

Sub-editors: Anne Hollowday, Katie Horrocks, Jamie 
Kingett, Reena Makwana, Ben Mechen 

Contributors: StuartAitken, Miss AMP, Euan Andrews, 
Adam Anonymous, HayleyAvron, Dan Barrow, Emily Bick, 
Abi Bliss, Natalie Boxall, Melissa Bradshaw, Beth Capper, 
Stevie Chick, Gordon Conrad, Merek Cooper, Neil Cooper, 
The Corpo, Jon Dale, Jesse Darlin', John Darnielle, Petra Davis, 
John Doran, Dickon Edwards, Matt Evans, Jonathan Falcone, 
Alistair Fitchett, Anna-Marie Fitzgerald, Fiona Fletcher, 
Richard Fontenoy, Noel Gardner, Thorn Gibbs, Kieron Gillen, 
Alex Goffey, Spencer Grady, Hannah Gregory, James 
Hodgson, Jess Holland, Anne Hollowday, Jessica Hopper, 
Chris Houghton, Tom Howard, Ben Hoyle, Miranda lossifidis, 
Charlie Jones, Kev Kharas, Jamie Kingett, Pil and Galia 
Kollectiv, Neil Kulkarni, Sam Lewis, Chris Lo, Darren 
Loucaides, Andrzej Lukowski, Scott McKeating, Alex 
Macpherson, David McNamee, Ben Mechen, Nicola Meighan, 
Patrick Moran, Shane Moritz, Doug Mosurock, JR Nelson, 
Marcus O'Dair, James Papademetrie, Peter Parrish, Ned 
Raggett, Marcus Scott, Matthew Sheret, Joe Shooman, James 
Skinner, Quintin Smith, Stewart Smith, Alexis Somerville, 
Ringo P Stacey, Lianne Steinberg, Douglas Stewart, Samuel 
Strang, Dr Swan, GeorgeTaylor, Daniel Trilling, Matilda 
Tristram, Meryl Trussler, Ben Webster, Robin Wilks, LivWillars 


Bob Battams 

Shawn Brackbill 


Yannick Grandmont 

Yusuke Miyazaki 


Cat Stevens 




Carla Barth 

Jussi Brightmore 

John Cei 

Gemma Correll 

Patrick Gildersleeves 


Lauren Minco 

Marcus Oakley 


Dimitri Simakis 


Cover photography: Samuel Hicks 

4 1 plan b 



■ J 

f'J ■ J 


• 1 


1 J 1 




Words: Louis Pattison 

Skullflower Photo: Michael Muniak 

■ - 


'• - 









i d 


* li 

No Fun Fest 

Music Hall Of Williamsburg, NewYgrk 

Springtime rn Williamsburg, and the sti 
throng with hipster kids enjoying the first 
ipse of summer. Inside, the Basque sound 
rtist Mattin has some tough questions for 
the crowd. "What do you think is radical about 
what you are doing here?" he asks the silence. . 
The crowd respond witfrshouts and cat-calls. 
"Look at this venue," he continues, vQic^gra 
dripping with scorn. "So... sterile." j^ ^^%l 

Careeragitator, Mattin is bothmoise's 
harshest critic and, in his delight in scratching 
at exposed nerves, very much in the genre's 
continuity. In the last couple of years, No Fun 
Fest -the noise festival curated byVenezue 
born, NYC-based Carlos Giffoni - has shift 

from its original home at The Hook in 
Brooklyn's earthy downtown to the more 
salubrious, air-conned environs of the Music 
Hall Of Williamsburg, bringing with it some 
big alterno-rawk headliners (Bardo Pond, Sonic 
Youth), new blog sensations (Blank Dogs, Cold 
Cave) and some people on message boards 
complaining about how it's not as good as 
it used to be before it's even happened. 

Yet if there is anything that stands out 
about this year's No Fun, it is the way it 
demonstrates how quote-unquote 'noise' in 
2009 is less a tightly codified sound and more 
simply a space to orbit. For sure, synthesisers 
are in: an early highlight comes with Raglani, 
hose bubbling modular synthodysseys recall 
Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach, and other ambient 

Krautrock egg-heads. And of course, you know 
about Emeralds, whose epic Sunday set invests 
twinkling New Age sonics with hurricane force, 
guitarist Mark McGuire tracing a spiralling raga 
from deep within the centre. 

Also represented is New York's current crush 
on coldwave, gothy synth-pop from the early 
Eighties. Boy/girl duo Xeno And Oaklander 
come on like a cryogenically-frozen Human 
League caught shortly post-defrost, while Wes 
Ei so Id's Cold Cave merge Power, Corruption 
And Lies-era New Order with abrasive 
keyboard washes that sting like acid rain. 
Giffoni, meanwhile, plays a set of analogue 
synth that's practically acid techno - drop a 
clap behind that kick and you could be listening 
to an old Phuture side (no-one dances, though). 

It exists like 
a singularity, in 
one co-ordinate 


The more familiarly 'noise' acts, when they 
come, are far from cookie-cutter. Man Is The 
Bastard spin-off Bastard Noise complete 
Friday night with a slow-creeping set of 
electronic doom, vocalist Eric Wood unleashing 
guttural vocal rumbles and bestial shrieks as 
the sludge-drift gains pace like magma. Sons 
Of God, a Swedish performance/noise duo, 
embark on some kind of Dadaist ballet routine, 
arms aloft and a tremor, mouths lolling open as 
countryman Joachim Nordwall strafes the stage 
with crackling sound. But a dud comes with UK 
industrial veterans Grey Wolves, who promise 
harsh transgression a la Whitehouse, but offer 
the rather weak display of a preening bootboy 
strutting his stuff to a churning high-end tone 
akinto-and not much louderthan-afood 

mixer. Sound engineers scrabble by the mixing 
desk in a fruitless effort to boost the volume, 
but the vocalist seals his fate by embarking 
on a bizarre cover of Peaches' 'Fuck The Pain 
Away', during which he reaches into his pants 
and fumbles with his dick (some American 
kids behind me are absolutely wailing with 
laughter). Far better shock schlock from 
Yellow Tears, three young Brooklyn ites you 
might hail "the next Wolf Eyes", if that were 
yourthing. Skinny, naked torsos convulsing 
over a bank of electronics, they play a sort of 
grisly sample collage, squelching synths and 
battered sheet metal drenched in pitch-bent 
samples of sobs and gurgles apparently cribbed 
from some XXX-rated source. Grotesquely 
compelling. wash your hands. 

It's hard notto bear Mattin's critique in mind 
as Sonic Youth take the stage: what hope 
for noise as a radical artistic manoeuvre when 
this festival's main draw is aging veterans, 
mangling guitars? Yet 40-odd minutes of 
acrobatic instrument trickery is not without 
its basic thrill; necks are balanced against amps, 
and it ends with Kim stretched out on the floor, 
guitar raised up like an offering to above. 

A imperious, climactic Sunday set from 
Skullf lower, meanwhile, forces its own 
legitimacy. Augmented by a cellist and Burning 
Star Core's C Spencer Yeh on violin, Matthew 
Bower and Lee Stokoe spirit up a sharp, 
scintillating guitar skree that strips away 
rhetoric and just is. It exists like a singularity, 
at one co-ordinate: rarified, psychedelic, pure. 

the void 

graffiti island 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 

Photography: Owen Richards 

We cross Shoreditch on our way to the venue, enjoying our grumpy old man 
routine: hating posh students, laptop designers, expensive furniture shops, 
working from the pub, and asymmetrical hair stylists. Stopping for a pistachio 
croissant, we realise we are them. 

Even so, arrive at the Old Blue Last pleased with ourselves for being quite 
punctual and missing most of the rain when disaster strikes: we're informed by 
Graffiti Island's apologetic representative, Conan, that the band's participation 
in tonight's gig, organised by new label Sex Is Disgusting, has been cancelled. 
The anti-rock'n'roll life style has claimed another casualty: Pete, the band's lead 
singer took the wrong night off from hisjobasananny. Others might have 
disbanded on the spot because of such an irresolvable conflict of life and art, 
but Conan seems unfazed: everyone has been very understanding, he explains. 

We find our way to the quieter emergency staircase upstairs when the 
heavens rightfully punish us for our unchristian feelings towards hipsterville, 
and we conduct yet another interview under a big umbrella. Asking about 
other day jobs that might interfere with the islanders' rise to stardom it emerges 
Conan and Cherise both work in video production - Conan for transvestite porn 
content providers. This strikes us as very typical of London, a city made up of the 
mundane and the bizarre converging and then dissipating into oblivion. London 
has never really been a 24-hour rock city, happily embracing the sleepiness of 
early closing time and a tube which terminates at midnight. And, despite the 
protestations of the Vorticiststhat London was not a provincial town, it must 
be the only place in the world where a nanny and an amateur pornographer 
play hazy psychedelic rock'n'roll with a girl on drums. 

London is also the force that brought the band together: Conan is from 
Shropshire, Pete from LA via New Zealand, and Cherise from here, although her 

'We're trying to go back to 
what we did before and see 
if it's relevant now' 

mum is Filipino: the Welsh border meets the Atlantic meets the Old Street kebab 
shop. Just how this amounts to the droning intoning of 'Bad Potion', 'Wolf Guy' 
or 'Head Hunters' isn't immediately clear, but Conan explains that the B-movie 
scenarios correspond to the way the band works, imaging their songs as film 
scores: "We'll immediately get an image in our head of what would be 
happening in a film if the song was playing and it sort of goes from there" . 

Considering their references to outsider art and cult movies, Conan gives 
the impression of a pretty well-adjusted ex-skater - so where do these interests 
come from? "Coming from a small town, I've always loved Sixties and Seventies 
sci-fi, that whole era when people were paranoid about the end of the world 
and nuclear war, like Soylent Green and The Omega Man. I've just discovered 
Cosmic Hex, which is the kind of website I'd like to create -I've hardly done any 
work all week because I've just been downloading or watching films. I'm really 
attracted to that whole VHS aesthetic as well -we'd really like to make a music 
video using these old cameras me and Cherise have bought off eBay". 

In fact, this kind of engagement with obscure films and obsolete 
technologies epitomises what they do: the Graffiti Island is by no means an 
isolated piece of land where actual drinking of human blood and other hirsute 
pursuits take place. The band's laconic style is at odds with the wild thrashing 
and primitive party sounds of the rock'n'roll and exotica they seem to invoke. 
When he is around, Pete's singing consists of Mark E Smith-like repetition from 
behind Morrissey glasses - hardly the sperm-encrusted pants delivery of Lux 
Interior, may he rest in peace. But there's something about their knowing 
unrock'n'rollness that succeeds in reanimating the undead corpse they are 
dancing with. 

"The rise of DJ culture didn't really have any impact on my life, so now 
we're trying to go back to what we did before and see if it's more relevant 
now, reinterpreting that with what we've learnt" . 

So what gets added in this recycling of culture? " I don't think there's 
anything wrong with saying: I like this, it worked first time around -why not?" 

We switch the voice recorder off and walk into the rain. Shoreditch is 
now completely empty and an insistent Satanic riff keeps playing in our heads. 
Suddenly, all the pay phones start to ring at once. 


Ifel ^ J **&. 1A L T* J L M j£ jl 














0844 499 9990 
0844 499 9990 
0844 499 9990 
0844 477 2000 
0113 245 5570 
0870 444 4400 
0844 576 5483 
0238 055 5899 
0870 060 0100 
0844 847 2424 
0870 241 5093 
0844 477 2000 
0161 832 1111 




the brownies 

Words: David McNamee 

Like some other bands, The Brownies are from 
Norwich. Unlike most other bands from Norwich 
(and other places),The Brownies rock th r 
The combined kick of their locked-in-to-rucK rnyuims 
and gut-punching dual guitars is almost heavy metal. 

If we were a more erudite journalist and singer 
Sophie a classier kind of lady, we'd call her contribution 
lascivious. Luckily we're not, and Sophie is, frankly, 
carnivorous, monstrous, carnal, rapacious. The 
Brownies are the most rockingest band in Britain this 
side of Future Of The Left and their debut album, 
Ourknife Yourback, is my album of the year so far. 

Does it feel weird to be so lumped in with 
the provincial Norwich indie-pop scene? 
You've got more in common with Paramore 
than Bearsuit. 

Maxie (guitar): "Sorry guys, that comparison is my 
fault. They're so damn catchy, I can't help myself. . . " 

Did you deliberately intend to write a sex 
album? You didn't sound like this a year ago. 

Sophie: " I like the idea of a sex album, it turns me 
on. The other Brownies keep writing sexy-sounding 
music, and I cannot be inspired by anything other than 
the thought of us all in bed together." 

That line in 'Secret', "You make my knickers 
warm and my lips hot ret/". Why isn't that kind 
of sexual aggression acceptable in male indie 
bands? How would you feel if little Gareth 
from Los Campesinos! started singing "You 
make my pants bulgy and my hot cock hard"? 

Sophie: " I exude sexually explicit sentences in 
a similar manner to one commenting on the weather, 
and as regularly as meal time. If Gareth were to sing 
those golden words, I may turn a sleazy shade of 
excitable pink. But the lyric is a sexual commentary, 
rather than a 'do me now' suggestion. Take or leave my 
warm knickers, I just want you to be aware of them." 

Other things you should know aboutThe Brownies 
is that they are fond of quoting the poetry of R Kelly, 
Lil Kim and Red Hot Chili Peppers, that they like all 
bands in Norwich (except one) and write songs 
slagging each other off in a heart-warmingly petulant 
way, that Stevie is capable of psychically predicting 
when twin sister Maxie will be in danger and physically 
experiences her pain. Also, their new single, 'Cougar', 
is a ferociously lusty howlstomp that flips you up in the 
air as it rolls on its black, gleefully disembowelling 
you with its hindclaws while you still think you're 
playing and having fun, until it's too late forever. 

From Urban Dictionary: Cougar: An woman who 
frequents clubs to score with much younger men. 

So... you're into cougars, huh? 

Stevie (bass): "Well I'm not one to tell on people, 
but we often find Sophie hanging around school 
playgrounds trying to score with younger men." 
Nathan (guitar): "That's amazing." 

10 1 plan b 


Words: George Taylor 

"I've got something to hide," says Franck Rivoire, 
aka Danger-a young French graphic designer and 
musician who releases hyperactively melodic electro 
which shivers and sputters under titles infused with 
vague intrigue- '88:88', '1 1 h30', '00:01 ' and so 
on. The two EPs that Danger has released so far 
are named after the dates '09/14/2007' and 
'09/1 6/2007', both released on Ekler'o'shock. 

Rivoire himself isn't willing to give too much 
away, admiring his choices for their abstract, 
universal nature. "They are figures anyone can see 
on their Casio watch or in a train station," he offers. 
"Titles mostly interest me because they can be used 
to add something extra to the music. " 

Danger fits into a 
lineage of electronic 
artists who are all 
about providing 
'something extra', 
from Kraftwerk's 
mannequins to Daft 
Punk's wandering 
robots, by way of the 

demonic brood of Richard D James. Naming his two 
biggest creative influences as Stanley Kubrick and 
Caravaggio - about as innovative as image creators 
come - confirms my initial suspicion that, for Rivoire, 
the music he creates is as much a soundtrack to his 
graphics work as it is a club plate destined for the 
floor of Le Batofar. His artwork, on EP covers and 
his MySpace page, shows a figure enveloped by 
internal shadow emerge from a green mist, eye 
sockets glowing red, industrial complexes burning 
in the distance; a dense rainforest parting to reveal 
an enormous pyramid intermittently lit by Flash 
(animation) lightning - pixel graphics rendered 
hyper-smooth in a style familiar to any player of 
the Silent Hill or Resident Evil series. 

"I make the music and pictures complementary," 
he says. "Certainly, the movies say something that 

'I've got 
to hide' 

the music cannot. I'm making music for my 
generation -that is, people who can watch two 
screens showing two different movies, listening 
to music at the same time. " 

When I ask Rivoire if he is connected to or feels 
an affinity at all with the Justice/Ed Banger scene 
in Paris with which he shares some sonic similarities, 
he states that the comparison is purely generational, 
and that " people are looking for different ways 
than Ed B." Hardly surprising, when you consider 
the stretched limits of that scene's appeal - 
an overload of revving synth build-ups, macho 
volume competitions and fashion models bleeding 
crimson hedonism for 
photographers - as well as the weak releases 
(anybody wanna rep for Krazy Baldhead?) from 
the past 12 months. 

The 'different way' Danger provides comes 
across best if you view his work through the prism 
of 2 1 st Century horror. The wobbly audio of nth 
generation John Carpenter dubs has been replaced 
by Blu-Ray's perfect sensorium, digital fishhooks 
pulling the late Seventies into the late Noughties. 
Meanwhile, the Silent Hill/Resident Evil games 
thrive on an interactive assumption of fear, 
a complicity between gamer and game-maker. 
Rivoire is a 'big fan' of these games' environments, 
explaining his interest in horror as "the love for 
irrational feelings and dreams existing within 
an otherwise coherent and realistic universe." 

None of this would make much of a difference 
of course if Rivoire's music itself wasn't as strong 
as it is, and while his debut EP (from 2007) is 
addictive but standard electro-house fare, the 
latest is entirely thrilling, as ominous and strange 
as its artwork promises - those Carpenter-esque 
melodies dart and tingle like spirit fingers on yr 
bare back, processed strings and brass fanfares 
swell the drama, and the beats are always around 
the corner, waiting to give chase. "Danger is 
something everyone is afraid of," says Rivoire. 
"Yet there is attraction there. It's magnetic. " 



24TH-26TH JULY 2009 






SCORN EARTHLESS chris herberi 





ARBOURETUM nancy Wallace 



^ p . R ™ E KIMHIORTH0Y 


ill PRE 










Erol Alkan is the DJ/producer who taught a generation 
of indie kids about dance music. Richard Norris teamed 
up with Genesis P-Orridge to release 1 987's seminal 
proto-acid house album JackThe Tab, before founding 
The Grid. And, as Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve, they 
"reanimate" singles in the warped spirit of Balearic 
trance, merging freak beat, Turkish prog and classic 
Sixties garage into shimmering magpie patchwork. 

What does psychedelia mean to you? 

Richard: " Psychedelia is anything that can open up 
your head and encourage new ways to think. I certainly 
don't see it as a museum piece forever stuck in 1 967." 

Erol: "The sound of somebody's imagination 
pushed to its boundaries and possibly beyond. Some 
of my favourite records get it completely wrong and 
came up with something unique instead. Psych is like 
disco, in terms of how much actual music there is out 
there. One can only physically mine a small fraction 
of it, and the deeper you dig, the more variations 
become apparent. Before you know it, you are within 
a completely different genre." 

Many 'neo-psychedelic' artists slavishly 
recreate retro sounds, when Sixties artists 
used up to the minute recording technology. 
How do you handle those contradictions? 

Richard: " Psychedelia will always be the sound 
of the future, today. If Hendrix was alive he'd be using 
the latest technology. For the BTWS mixes I'm partial 
to a bit of mellotron, one of the quintessential Sixties 
psych sounds, but I'm happy to use a plug-in." 

Erol: "Arguing that there is one creative method 
more worthy then the other is utterly pointless. People 
make incredible music in bedsits on laptops and others 

How do you view your source material? 

Richard: "I've been collecting odd bits of spoken 
word, video, and records for years, always with a view 
to recycling found sound in new ways. My biggest 
influences are Eno, William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, 
so my take on cut-up techniques and found sound have 
their roots in their work, among others. Working with 
Genesis P-Orridge on the album Jack The Tab in 1 987 
was probably the start. Genesis thinks that if you put 
a musical sample on a track, the whole history of that 
sample, from the guitarist's haircut through the band's 
entire back catalogue to their fans' desire for the singer 
becomes part of your record. And who am I to argue? " 

If money/time/common sense were no 
issue, what would BTWS get up to next? 

Richard: " Releasing singles and albums, putting 
on a startling technicolour dream of a live show, 
and running our own festival, deep in the woods." 

Erol: " I like the fact that we are limited in time 
and common sense - it kinda steers us in a direction 
we need to go in." 


Words: Lauren Strain 

Tonight, I have screamed myself to the point where 
blood has ambushed my eyes. The words are, 
by now, deformed and meaningless, just vowels 
and sputum. 

"Language is very sacred to me," reads an email 
from my addressee, Jocelyn Noir. "Our ancestors 
used sound vibrations to summon demons or speak 
to God. I wish that sort of power was still present 
in everyday life. Words are wasted." 

I read on; it's like she's provided this argument 
I'm halfway through with a commentary. " Me, 
fighting with my own mind," she writes below my 
question about her lyrics and their recurring themes. 
"How hypocritical I am, or underdeveloped." 

'You've got to keep 
your tribe together' 

Sometimes, when you listen to a certain person's 
music, you wonder how they can feel just like that - 
just like you - and yet produce something so 
opposite of all those destructive things. Jocelyn - 
so you know - is f rontlady of Alak (formerly Alas, 
Alak, Alaska!), a hubbub of mostly female 
California-based musicians. "I've been playing 
guitar for 1 4 years, no lessons (not to toot my own 
horn)," goes her story. "Alak is my soul." 

Sinister and vulnerable and unrepentant, Alak's 
notes are good and bad karma, pluck and luck and 
despair. Keys jangle; a harpsichord spinnerettes 
lonely thru' 'Juniper The Arrows'. Her voice is milky 
and squirming. And this - "Clarinettis Qoonotations: 
Too Many Notes" fucking preternatural and the 
golden weave ofg-nashing teeth - is the title of 
Alak's new album, but also a conspiratorial meeting 

of your inner voices in broad nightlight. " My 
imagination at times is so overwhelming that I get 
lost", she says. I watch the video for 'Finick While 
Clicking Its Fingers', in which two children are lured 
to the woods by a man in black, before everyone 
bounds around, singing and embracing. As with 
much of Alak's music, you're left unsure if these 
sounds and scenes are celebratory or unsettling. 

" I was possessed by demons before, was 
under the impression that I was one, based on my 
childhood and recurring nightmares. . .So I wrote 
these really terrifying songs, but would be sad 
because I wanted to be a good lady people thought 
was nice. I inadvertently combined those things." 

The video was made by Huckleberry DelSignore, 
a filmmaker living in Pittsfield, Massachusetts with 
her husband Justin and their girls (the ones in the 
flick). Together, they own a residential artspace 
called Copperworks and they're just two of afar- 
flung DIY community Alak keep ties with across the 
land. "I'm an avid searcher of my people!" writes 
Jocelyn. "It's hard being an artist in the real world - 
you've got to keep your tribe together. Scenes are 
sticky butthole monsters. I recently moved back to 
the weird little town where I grew up; it's the most 
inspiring place for me to write, in the forest with the 
mountains and plants and bugs and critters. " 

I ask her if she collects anything. " Food stamps. " 
There's a short piece of diary-fiction on Alak's 
MySpace, about marble buildings, sinking in clay 
and rising back up. "Wow! You're probably one of 
three people who have ever read that, " she squeals. 
"I love to write. I just wish I could finish some of the 
things I start. My boyfriend makes huge cardboard 
monsters; he'll sit down and make one in two hours. 
I'm trying to make some book/graphic novel, but it 
will probably take a couple of years with mysnaily- 
snail ways. " Beneath the memo 'QUESTIONS FROM 
PLAN B MAGAZINE', she has written "spektakle 
boohas" and I don't know why. I smile. 

I press play on the record again. It's snug. It's 
sincere. I'm quiet now. I hibernate, incubate and 
wake back up to this. 

12 | plan b 



www.seetickets.oom * www.starBreen.oom # * www.gJganfttc.oom 


the void 

guided tour: dirty projectors 

Words: Andrzej Lukowski 

The former Plan B cover stars return with a record already making next level 
waves, and bandleader Dave Longstreth is at hand to lead a derive 


* y ) 

- ;y?r^'": 

Calling Bitte Orca Dirty Projectors' 'pop album' 
is a bit like describing the sun as 'a yellow circle'; 
yup there's no arch over-riding themes, yeah Amber 
and Angel have been pushed to the mic and gotten 
in touch with their inner Mariah Careys, and sure, 
it's clearly inspired by a lot of mainstream music. 
But all this is filtered, processed, deconstructed, 
and reconstructed through the fantastic machine 
that is Dave Longstreth's brain. So, rather than 
dither around in the repercussions of that, I shall 
humbly hand you over to the man himself. 

Cannibal Resource 

Wobbling precise guitars, early Talking Heads 
undertones, harmonies my puny words cannot 
do justice to. 

"It's actually about playing Primavera last May. 
I read a book on tour called The World Without Us 
by Alan Weisman. It posits a tomorrow where every 
human is sickened, and the only thing left standing 
is everything we've built- and how long would it 
take for the for the world to change to some sort 
of natural state - super-interesting. And at 
Primavera, staying in this luxury hotel - I've never 
been to Dubai, but it reminded me of that - 
everything was made to feel elegant, except if 
you looked more closely it was shoddily done and 
you could imagine it all just falling down really 
easily. It was just. . .a culturally late moment, you 
could imagine [cackles madly] this being close to 
the end, just the festival itself, everyone gathered 
together from all around Europe, for this super- 
joyful time." 

Temecula Sunrise 

First hint Dave's been at the R&B cabinet, crooning 
"hittin' the spot, yeah, like Gatorade, whoa" . 
"There's a town in San Diego county east of 
LA called Temecula, and it was the site of some 
of this massive boom in housing from the 
adjustable mortgage rate possibility -from a farm 
town of a couple of thousand people to, within 
a couple of years, 600,000 people. And I wrote this 
song last February, before any of this real estate 
stuff started happening. So in the United States 
you drive around and you just see acres and acres 
of these new homes, and you just imagine 'Where 
were all these people before?' I was imagining 
in the same way that great industrial buildings 
along riversides are now laying empty and sort 
of reclaimed by younger people looking to 
make rent, I was imagining a time when those 
houses no longer fit into what our society wants, 
these acres and acres of empty homes outside 
every American city, and I was imagining kids 
our age or younger, going out into the middle 
of them and turning them into these ecstatic 
art zones." 

The Bride 

It's a wedding song. 
"It's a wedding song." 

14 1 plan b 

Stillness Is The Move 

A friend said it sounded as if Mariah Carey hadspen t 
her career getting exponentially better instead of 
exponentially worse. I cannot top that. 
" By temperament I'm sort of a modernist - 1 believe 
in developing a unique language that's kind of 
elegant and expressive on its own terms, and what 
I've always liked to do is try and take everything that 
means something to me and put it all together, 
synthesise it and transform it into something 
unrecognisable. One of the thoughts with this 
album was 'What if I didn't make it into something 
unrecognisable?' And so this song is one of the 
things like that -it's totally inspired by mid-Nineties 
R&B, people like Timbaland and Rich Harrison. 

"In the early part of this decade there was this 
high water mark in having backing tracks that were 
incredible, architectural and spacious and displayed 
this incredible physical quality of sound, you could 
hear it on a good system and you'd be like 'Oh 
my god there's that's fucking bass drop again; oh 
my god there's that little triangle I could almost go 
and reach that'. It's this lattice of rhythm, and then 
the vocals over it are very emotional, direct - the 
contrast of that latticed architecture and that 
beautiful vocal, very expressive at the same time 
as being really elaborate, melismatic - 1 love that 
type of music, and so yeah, I guess we tried to do 
that with 'Stillness Is The Move'." [Proceeds to play 
'Me And U' on his laptop. Rest of description 
inaudible on tape - please listen to Cassie's classic 
for full effect] 

Black Dove 

Angel sings what almost sounds like an 
experiment in syrupy, sparse balladeering, 
thrown into something stranger and better by 
her curious over-intonation and some wayward 
quasi-orch estral strings. 

"One idea with this album was to write everybody 
in the band's personality into the music. Normally 
I'm just sitting in a chair having an idea about 
a song, thinking about a melody or how parts 
could lock together, should that be an oboe 
or an alto-flute, should it be me and the girls doing 
a unison thing...? This was the first time I'm writing 
for Brian and Angel and Amber, so I like the idea 
of making their temperaments in some way part 
of the DNA of the music, and with that was making 
room for those girls to inhabit on their own, 
a lead number for everybody. 'Two Doves' I really 
wanted to make a lovers' song - it was all about 
yearning and melancholy and this kind of like 
wintry sensuality. Angel got it, Angel totally 
understood what was happening and where 
the song is located." 

Bitte Orca 

In brief: epic. 

"A lot of the songs that I write can be fairly sort 
of, urn, 'structurally unique', but the funny thing 
is in rock music there is a tradition of making 

r*a * 




'Making Brian, 
Angel and Amber's 
temperaments part of 
the DNA of the music' 

a circuitous, cinematic song, like 'Happiness 
Is A Warm Gun' or 'Bohemian Rhapsody' 
or 'Paranoid Android'. So this was playing 
around with that kind of song, from within 
that tradition." 

No Intention 

Cool daps, raffish beats: the album's most settled 
track. Makes you wanna STRUT. 
"I really wanted to do, like, a Rave'n'B sound... 
I wanted the first part of the song to sound that 
way, just one little keyboard, and to have a massive 
late guitar solo. Maybe a bit of Eighties Dylan. 
Just to have this kind of lyrically dense imagery be 
where the movement of the song was; again, it was 
like trying to step outside of what I've been trying 
to explore previously." 

Remade Horizon 

Summery, strummy verses flow into fat, sub-bass- 
laden choruses. If you had a lot of time on your 
hands, you could probably glean some hours 
of amusement working out which word occurs 
most on this record - 'yeah ' or 'whoah '. 
"I was thinking about the terrace dynamics 
of grunge music, where you have this self-contained 
and tightened verse that explodes into a distorted 
chorus. Something like that is really different 
dynamically to, you know... ambient music 
or Wagner, where the dynamics are way more 
graduated. So the idea with 'Remade Horizon' 
was thinking about using that sort of grunge 
terrace dynamics within the historical character 
of the Sixties." 

Fluorescent Half Dome 

Soft sy nth, big drums: you could imagine Phil 
Collins listening to this and wondering who broke 
one of his songs. 

"A half dome is a really unique rock face in Yosemite 
Park in California, and the idea of a fluorescent 
half dome. . .1 dunno, it seems like maybe something 
sought after, something elusive and beautiful . . . 
alsol just wanted to make a love song. Again." 


the void 

the making of 

Words: kicking_k 

What lives in the darkness at the edge 
of dream town? Nite Jewel 

From glam metal's excess glitter to G-funk's 
sunlit gangsterism, the music of LA has long 
been shadowed by the silver screen. If the 
former saw visuals overpower audio, and tr 
latter candif ied verite for mass consumptio 
the city's since been painted as underachieving 
when it comes to further formal movements 
(downtown DIY epicentre The Smell is a scene, 
not a sound). But any place so half-fantasy 
so full of cutting rooms and lost scripts is p 
to overpopulation of its margins. Enter, fr 
suburbs: Ariel Pink, whose home-recordec 
canon of detuned radio misses resurrectec 
bedroom pop in the age of virtual distribu 
in turn evolving a cadre of sympathisers o 
local label Human Ear. 

Amongst this non-profit foundation's 
latest is Ramona Gonzalez, who relocatec 
from New York to study philosophy by day 
plus play music way outsidethe curriculum 
Only recently solo, her debut as Nite 
Jewel, Good Evening bigamies straining, 
indecipherable vocals, slow synth phases 
and R&B ornamentation in entropicgroov 
built for headphones and/or the subconsc 
Although straight-up insisting Ariel -also 
a friend - is "making the most important m 
of our time", she stresses their similarities 
more pragmatic than ideological: "I recorc 
in lots of studios prior to this album. The 
interface was not fun for me. Howthefina 
product was arrived at was always a myste 
With an eight-track, I dictate." 

The music seems resigned to its fate - 
lo-fi, hi-gloss, well-spaced patterns of so fe 
elements that each detail, flourish or emphasis 
swells against the tape hiss while still feeling 
as disembodied as a Photoshop collage, to 
be brought to front or sent to back at a whim. 
"I knew, playing classical and jazz piano and 
acoustic guitar, I would never be able to 
express myself because those were completely 
different cultural moments from my own. 
I relate more to the textures of electronic 
music of the past than any made currently. 
Maybe because I've been living under a rock. 
That rock is Berkeley, California." 

The album emerged from the collapse 
of a band she doesn't talk about, in a period 
characterised by "isolation meets fantasy 
meets frustration". Gnomic song titles such 
as 'Heart Won't Start' and 'Universal Mind' 
layer another veil of interference and, in the 
absence of definite blocks of meaning, one 
finds oneself lost in her moods: "I turned 
the feedback high because I wasn't ready 
to communicate in such explicit ways with . . . 
anyone, really". But don't imagine she's not 
chroma key clear what's happening behind 
the scenes: "The songs are empirical. For me 
the everyday is what contains the most depth. 
Like, my song 'Suburbia' features the image 
of my cousin scoping out homes with her 
family, and all those homes having pictures 
of other families on the walls..." 

OK, let's break that fourth wall. I was 
thinking about how original basement 
producers like R Stevie Moore actually 
intended to make mainstream music - 

do you think this second generation are 
instead attempting to duplicate their 
homemade sound (ie following into 
the weird quasi-pop zones the pioneers 
unwittingly opened up) or are you still, 
ideally, shooting for populism...? 

"I don't know what Ariel thinks but I don't 
intentionally try to alienate a mass audience 

I The everyday 
contains the most 

blogging and autotune? I guess pop culture 
is moving too fast for me. Does that make me 
avant-garde? Certainly not. I'm just clueless." 

How does being in the 'entertainment 
capital of the world' tie into yr work? 
There's obviously a huge amount of 
people there aiming toward a career in 
film. Is that to the detriment of music - 
are the two, to a degree, opposed? (if 
Hollywood film is - like big studio pop - 
multi-author, formally conservative, 
with slick aesthetics...) 

"I don't really care about the specifics 
of Hollywood. It's funny that I know people 

vined with it because - having b 
on a movie set -I am a different species from 
actors, etc. We don't cohabit, we don't fuck, 
we don't even see each other, really. I guess 
in that sense my single 'Artificial Intelligence' 
[which comes with a video of media 
martyrdom] relates to the rest of the gene 
pool mutating -while I'm still under my rock." 

.ter, I'm listening to her record again, 
singing phonetically along like a mourning 
dog, thinking how pop made in isolation 
becomes something else - since our tastes are 
peculiar to ourselves, what pop 'is' devolves 
accordingly. I'm making lists of others: Gary 
Wilson, Harry Merry, John Maus, Geneva 
Jacuzzi, reading reviews of her record, extra- 
bored of all the drugs refs when the way she 
plays (live takes, no edits) is closer to real than 
the caffeine perfection attained via studio 
and high-end computer apps. Could I call it 
'amateuresque'? Is that insulting? To who? 

Meanwhile, her voice is buried under the 
pulse of the bass, the creeping imperfections 
of repro, the almost human limitations that 
colourise the character of old technology. 
I write: production used to upfront the process 
is another channel of meaning. And I picture 
all the bedrooms and basements where 
outsiders and others can make island music 
now and share that, and hear each other. 
And with that, from this bedroom, I save 
myfileand mail it in. 

16| plan b 



Like a futurist collective with a mission or, indeed, 
the Borg, Electricity in Our Homes answer as one unit 
(That's guitarist Charles Boyer, drummer Paul Linger, 
and bassist Bonnie Carr- who all sing - if you're 
wondering). But they're shoutier and shonkier, 
post-punk without being po-faced. They don't 
see amateurism as automatically pure. When they 
reference the past, they make it obvious that no-one 
lives there anymore. 

There's been a lot of comment about you 
sounding like the stripped-down bands you'd 
hear on John Peel, from the Fall to Fire Engines 
to DNA and Swell Maps. 

"All of those bands have influenced us. When we 
first got together we were listening to similar records, 
but the biggest factor in our music is ourselves and 
our relationship with each other. We have a strange 
friendship, close but uncomfortable, a bit like new 
shoes. This really manipulates the patterns and 
tension in the structures." 

You do a brilliant version of 'Louie Louie'. 
What do you think, is the difference between 
imitation and tribute? 

" Imitation is maybe where musicians start, it's 
natural. A tribute is something most bands become, 
lets face it. We started out influenced by British DIY 
but you evolve, don't you? You improve even without 
intention. It would be a nauseating pretence to remain 
'amateur'. If we had chosen to be plumbers we'd be 
installing your shower by now. . . not fixing a drip." 

Bonnie, will you sing/speak on more songs 
in the future? Please? 

"The new record has more 'Bonnietone' on it. 
All our vocals are a big part of the new songs now. 
It's like we have three new instruments to try and play. 
You watch - it's going choral . . . Italo-calypso choral." 

Tell me about the (indecipherable) 
chanting on 'Marvels'. This is almost a meta- 
song, describing itself as it plays. . . 

"The chanting is about a wildlife park. It's the park 
assistant explaining his duties at work." 

You've already recorded for some well- 
respected labels, including Too Pure and 4AD. 

"All the labels have been great for different 
reasons. The first EP was on Modern Pop Records, set 
up by a close friend of ours - Brandon Jacobs [from 
Neil's Children]. We've been pretty lucky; people have 
come to the gigs and then wanted to do something." 

What is the new 12-inch you're recording 
like? This is the first time you're using a studio 
with a higher level of production. What should 
we be expecting? 

"Well, it's the first time we broke the three-minute 
mark. . . it's monotonous and cycling, vocally driven, 
it's tight and loose, big and small, makes you move. . . 
it's pop - in some form - we think. Five inches longer 
than our previous records too... e; 


read labels: rompepistas 

Words: Miss AMP 

Let's party like it's 1992: Hello Cuca 
bring grrrl noise to suburban Spain 

When you think about riot grrrls - you do think 
about riot grrrls, right-you probably think about 
hairslides. Correction: guitars. And Olympia. And 
maybe as an afterthought, you might think about 
London, or Brighton. You almost certainly wouldn't 
be thinking about Murcia, Spain, because where 
the fuck is Spain? In Mexico or some shit? (Kidding.) 
And what would a bunch of riot grrrls be doing all 
the way out there anyway? 

Well, ask the indie- 
rock elite (you know: 
Calvin Johnson, 
Everett Tr- kidding!) 
because they have 
all discovered the 
delight that is Hello 
Cuca. Hello Cuca are 
two sisters, Mabel (bass) 
and Lidia (vocals/guitar), 
and a drummer-boy 
called Alfonso. Music- 
wise, imagine a Girls In 
The Garage compilation 
fronted by Kathleen 
Hanna channelling Dick 
Dale and you're almost 

there. Their Stateside fans ensured they were invited 
to play Olympia's Yeah! Fest! a while back, while 
their feminist leanings and DIY roots mean that 
they're regulars at Ladyfests across Europe. 

Yet despite this involvement in the scene, the 
band have lived for a long time in La Manga, a town 
they describe as "a touristic place that gets crowded 
with people in the summer, and during wintertime 
it is all wind and ghosts". So, how does a fully- 
formed riot grrrl band spring from Spanish oblivion? 
Well, the same way fully-formed riot grrrls sprung 
from the suburbs of London and Brighton back in 
the pre-internet days: through the post. 

"In La Manga there was, and is, nothing," Lidia 
tells me. "Luckily, we discovered mail-order, and 
received zines and records from the UK and USA: 
GirlFrenzy, Ablaze!, and all the VillaVilaKula stuff, 
and the Slampt label's 
zine, Fast Connection. 
Then along came the 
internet and it became 
even more intense." 

It's this immersion 
in the US/UK Nineties 
underground that has 
led to Hello Cuca's 

sound today. "Bikini Kill were our Ramones!" 
says Mabel. "No matter if I try to sound like Shirley 
Collins, some Bikini Kill is always there," adds Lidia. 
"The punk urgency of the riot grrrl bands is like an 
invisible tattoo I wear." 

In keeping with riot grrrl's DIY spirit, the band 
set up a label, Rompepistas (it means 'floorshakers'). 
"I think it's cool to have small labels from small 
towns instead of just a few from big cities," says 
Mabel. Of course, the other beauty of DIY activism 
is the way it draws like-minded souls towards you. 
When asked about their musical peers, they've 
worked with everyone they cite. 

" Incrucif icables are a band from Barcelona we 
released a split LP with a couple of years ago," says 
Mabel. "Also, Hidrogenesse, also from Barcelona. 
They released our compilation EsplendorEn La 
Arean on their label, 
Austrohungaro. They're 
so efficient and fast! 
Compared to them 
we're a disaster label!" 
The band won't be 
drawn on whether 
Spain, a country that 
gave the world the term 
'machismo', is worse 
than elsewhere when it 
comes to encouraging 
women to make music. 
"I think it's as bad as 
anywhere else in 
Europe," says Mabel. 
"It's important to have 
women in bands to 

'Bikini Kill were our 

inspire other women," 
says Lidia. "In my case, 
though, I wanted to 
make music even when 
I hadn't heard about 
any other girl bands. 
If girls don't want to 
make music these days, 
maybe they're just not 
interested -or they're brainwashed into thinking 
they can't do it." 

" Riot grrrl didn't have any impact in Spain, " says 
Mabel. "There have been two or three Ladyfests, 
but I don't think they've had much influence." And 
the media isn't much help. "Music magazines and 
blogs here are a very male thing. It's like sport press 
but with cultural aspirations, so it's even worse." 

Her final statement rings as true for the UK/US. 
"It feels like there's a canon here formed mainly of 
male musicians; women are just an anecdote in that 
history I don't believe in that canon, and I'm tired of 
seeing everything constructed around it. We don't 
need to build a new canon - let's just forget the 
whole thing." Rip it up and start again? Mabel, 
Lidia and Alfonso are doing exactly that. 

18 1 plan b 


iwk mm ii hacksaw 

Tuel6June BRIGHTON Duke Of York's 

Wed 17 June BRISTOL Fiddlers Club 

Thul8June LONDON Cecil Sharp House 

Fri 19 June GATESHEAD Baltic 

Sat 20 June STIRLING Tolbooth 

Sun 21 June GLASGOW Arches 

MonSSjune MANCHESTER Ruby Lounge 

Tue23june BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds 

Wed 24 June OXFORD Holywell Music Room 

Thu 25 June NORWICH Arts Centre 

Fri IO July CANTERBURY Lounge On The Farm 

Sat II July READING South Street Arts Centre 

Sun 12 July CARDIFF The Gate 

theleaflabel . com myspace . com/ahawkandahacksaw 



£ ' \\ — 

*- .*■ ,,— ~j 

n uv.'Fl 

- .-^'i 



•••• MOJO 



•••* Q 


Fri 5 Jun LONDON The Coronet 

Sat 18 Jul Latitude 

Fri 7 Aug The Big Chill 

Fri 11 Sep End Of The Road 



*••• UNCUT 
8/10 NME 
9/10 CLASH 






the void 

Words: Hannah Gregory, 
kicking_k f Louis Pattison and 
Robin Wilks 

llustrations: Vincent Vanol 

The singles reviewed, one last time 
Everyone here gets out alive 

Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van 

Bonkers (XL) 

Pop vs madness, in order of merit: Daft 
Punk. Crazy Frog. Lady Gaga. 
Schizophonic. 'Virtual Insanity'. And. . . ? 

Louis: So. . .this is Dizzee getting his first 
No 1 and thinking: "Right, electro -that's 
where the bucks are. . . " I see Dave Pearce. 
Kick: He is the patron saint of this kind of 
techno-macho bombast. . . kind of an 
experiment in obnoxiousness. 
Louis: I like the rapping on the verses. I do 
not like the robot voice that says "bonkers". 
Hannah: He says he likes a heavy bassline. 
Where is it? 

Robin: Hard to imagine who would buy this. 
Too naff even for Ed Banger crowd. 
Hannah: Oh no, dreamy vocal bit, I want out. 
Louis: Dizzee was the only one of the grime 
generation to pursue a lot of genre ideas 
without looking too craven. But this. . . 
Kick: I do think it would decimate a room 
full of casualties. So if \A/e're judging it by 
its purpose/effect... 
Louis: Asad silence falls overthe room. 

Jarvis Cocker 

Angela (Rough Trade) 

The first emission from J Branson 

Cocker's second post-Pulp album, 

Further Complications. Produced 

by Steve Albini. Sorry- 'engineered'. 

For that raw sound. 

Robin:The 'engineering' actually sounds 

strangely bland and flat. 

Hannah: And slightly annoying. 

Louis: Albini is not one for Big Dynamics, 

really. No compression. So 'Angela' is a wage 

slave of a sort, "Making four fifty an hour. . . " 

Kick: Glammy, but not very glittery. It's good 

that Jarvis is stepping away from tasteful. 

Hannah:Toward bad hotel band decor and 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club hooks? 

Robin:The song itself needs work, as well. 
Hannah: He likes the girl... but if anything, 
he is boring her. 

Louis: I like this though - it's a very simple, 
pared-down return. There is relatively little 
song here; just a slightly greasy yearning. 
Hannah: Sounds like a Rolling Stones late-life 
comeback crisis to me. 
Kick: Jarvis' WHOLE LIFE has been a midlife 
crisis. I do miss the bit in a Pulp song when 
everything would build up or break down 
and he'd give a little aside. 
Hannah: Someone should have been 
counting how many words are not 'Angela' 
in this song? Eight? 

Duchess Says 

Begging The 3Ts (Back Yard) 

Budgie-obsessed Canadians attempt 
to monetise their cult with three of their 
better-known songs on one mind- 
controlling disc. 

Kick: I find that electrobass sound satisfying. 
Like wet, black stepping stones. 
Hannah: Yeah, I want to be in the disco for 
this one. Shiny surfaces. Sparkly bodysuits. 
Less shiny and more scratchy all of a sudden. 
Louis: Chorus is RTX turned electroclash. 
Kick:To be fair to them, I think they're 
basically a DIY pop band with tech skills. 
Goes a bit hair metal, but deodorised. 
Robin: I like the atonal guitars, it's a bit 
post-punk, a bit Magazine. 
Kick: A couple of years ago so much seemed 
to be coming out of Montreal... 
Louis: Ran out of bands. Not a big place. 
Hannah: Not particularly 'Montreal'. 
Louis: Actually now this reminds me a bit 
more of Neue Deutsche Welle stuff, the way 
it uses rough textures and discord. 
Kick:They sound like they've played lots, too. 
There's a lot of big live rock moments. 
Robin: It's kind of the wrong year for this 
though, I think. 

David Cronenberg's Wife 

The Fight Song (Blang) 

Following 'My Best Friend's Going Out With 
A Girl I Like' and 'Runaway Pram' (Woody 
Allen and Eisenstein, respectively?), will 
this be Raging Bull or Rocky V? 

Louis: Beards. Whimsy. No audience. 
Kick:They've managed a bigger profile than 
any other antifolk UK band I've seen. 
Hannah: I like his slurry voice already. 
It's a bit vindictive too. 
Kick:They sound quite.. .competent, for 
starters. Which is a bit anti-antifolk..? 
Robin: Doesn't sound like a single so far. . . 
Kick: Yeah, there's a lot of tension, but not 
DRAMA. Although it's about fighting. 
Louis: It has that kinda Gallon Drunk feel, 
but they're not really out to rock the fuck out 
in a boozy haze like that mid-Nineties lot. 
Hannah: Definitely drunk. 
Robin:This kind of needs more bite. 
Kick:Two evenly-matched combatants. Both 
a bit tired and less angry by the moment. 
Slow dancing past the kebab shop. 
Robin: Delete 'kind of. 
Kick:They perk up on the B-side. Except it's 
about death. 

Louis: "When the train comes/You'll want to 
jump. . . or push. ..which are you? " 
Robin: Not sure what makes this antifolk 
rather than just plain indie.There's a glee 
in his delivery of the chorus. I don't like it. 


Tribal Skank (We Make) 

Time for a new funky hit based around a 
dance move involving bared claws. You 
know what to do. 

Louis: Buzzy bassline, filled out percussion 
with congas and stabby keyboards 
Kick: Funky 's fondness for dance crazes 
sometimes feels a bit like dependence. 
Quite liking this, though. I would dance to 
it in my own special way And be excluded. 

Hannah: So many layers of rhythm ! Like 

a rhythm-sandwich. 

Robin: I like the bleepy keyboards and shifty 

beat. Could use a bit more space though. 

Kick: Highly stimulating. But smooooov. 

Louis:The lyric is a bit uninvolving though. 

Kick: Yeah, would be better overlaid with a 

story about brief loves... 

Robin:This is basically a soca rhythm, no? 

Starting to love it. 

Hannah: Urban found sounds, cruising cars, 

boot opened to reveal boombox system. 

Then slammed shut in defiance. 

Kick: Fuck it, I'm writing lyrics. "Girl, the 

plane's about to goooooooooo. . . " 

Louis:This reminds me a little of some 

modern African hip-hop, a bit of a swing, 

a carnival sort of feel. 

Hannah: It would certainly incite original 

dance moves. 

The Legends 

Over And Over (Labrador) 

Much played on the internet, and (self) 
described as 'noisiest pop single out of 
Sweden'. They can dream. 

Robin: Psychocandyx early Boo Radleys/ 

Ride. A shoegazer's wet dream. 

Hannah: Forthe dreamy and the idealistic — 

and the candy-talking. 

Louis: Fixing up happy indie with Xtreme 

distortion has been something of a Zeitgeist 

these past 1 2 months or so. Short but savage. 

Kick: It manages to unite the poles, being 

melodic but also uncompromising in the 

actual screeeee of the feedback. 

Hannah: I like its shiftiness. 

Robin: I've definitely got a weakness for this 

sugary noise. Why is it all treble though? 


Louis:That bit in Lost In Translation where 

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen part to 

the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain has been 

really influential, no? 

20 1 plan b 

the void 

j^cuM GtiYJMb&vp -ur$£ 

I would dance to it in my own special way 

Hannah: Precisely that came to my head. 
Louis: I have a theory that film is right behind 
all of this new distorto Brooklyn rock. 
Hannah: Well, so be it. I like the dreamy jet- 
lagged sound. 


Sin City (Dented) 

West London is described somewhat 
unkindly as a 'crime-ridden dystopia' in the 
press release for the latest single from the 
formerTerra Firma MC. 

Louis: "Reverse your birth "? As in kill you? Or 
force a child up you? Because I want neither. 
Kick: 'Force a child up you' - first issue of 
Plan B literally banned. 
Hannah: Oh. ..more about the 'real' life lived. 
Robin: Production here is very good - from 
Chemo, UK hip-hop's wunderkind. 
Louis: Guitar solo - almost Dire Straits. 
Kick:That said, the old school horror 
ambience doesn't let itself be shook out of its 
(menacing) stride. B-side - produced by 
Bless Beats - is pretty threatening. 
Louis: I feel like a lot of UKHH is pretty tepid, 
I need rhythms like this to really interest me. 
Hannah:The strings bring much drama. 
Street theatrics. Fast exchanges. FLOW. 
Robin: He sounds more at home on this. 
Louis: So is this officially 'grime' or UKHH? Or 
somewhere in between? 
Kick: PR says 'tearing up any genre'. 
Hannah: In between. 

Helen Love 

Calm Down Dad (Elefant) 

The eponymous Welsh bubblegum punk 
heroine returns with comrades Sheena and 
Beth to continue a proud tradition of 
coloured seven-inches since 1 993. 

Louis:The seventh circle of indie. 
Kick:They don't fear change - they scorn it. 
Hannah: Sounds like it could soundtrack 
a kids show. Japanese pop from the valleys. 

Kick: Bike bell at chorus. Sneeze. Laughter. 
Hannah: Lyrics- hilarious. Trikes to tracksuits 
to trannies. Knowing small town naivety. 
Kick:This is the argument for doing 
something endlessly, I think, that you get so 
good at it you're like The Ramones, or Bach. 
Perfect, effortless, natural. 
Robin: I love how it exists in its own bubble, 
where it's always 1 988, still at school making 
mixtapes and writing the names of indie 
bands on exercise books. 
Louis:They're one of the few bands I can 
think of that makes indie-pop sound like a 
really fun idea still. Haha - and it ends with a 
pensioner singing the chorus to 'White Riot'. 

Little Boots 

New In Town (679) 

Based on her first visit to LA, some genius 

on her team decided the housing crisis of 

2009 was the best time to feature 

synchronised pseudo-homeless people in 

the video. Hmm. 

Kick: Oo. Didn't see the descending elevators 

sound coming. Or the big bubbly bit after. 

Robin: She "doesnt have a penny" -where 

are they going to go, then? 

Kick:The beach. Wow, the chorus is 

Eurovision big. But also kind of schoolyardy. 

Hannah: I can't hate it. I guess it still talks to 

the girl pop band part of me. 

Robin: I can. Instrumental ending is the only 

part I can stomach, to be honest. 

Louis: Parts of it are really ballsy and then: 

"Cuz I know how it feels to be alone ". 

Kick: Brassy then muted. The chorus might be 

the worst of its parts, weirdly. . .although 

now it's rolling, I'm starting to like it. 

Louis: It's actually a bitTop Man indie. 

Hannah: Like Frances once said, 'Music for 

girls to shop to'. Impulsive. 

Robin: Dramatically bland. 

Robin:The vulnerable part rings false though. 

Hannah:That's 'cause she's putting it on. 

Cooly G 

Narst/Love Dub (Hyperdub) 

Incoming female London producer 
balances pushing funky bassward and 
being a semi-professional footballer. 

Hannah:Tense already. 

Robin: Feel like I'm waiting for it to start. Very 

glossy for such a sparse production. 

Louis:Tense cymbals, claps -housey, but 

quite sinister. 

Kick: It has familiar Casio strings that I've 

heard plenty in grime, but here they're kind 

of in floating in space. 

Louis: I think this track is content to lurk. 

RobimThis stuff needs proper bass bins 

really. Reminds me of Wiley's early stuff. 

Kick: I kind of want someone to come over 

the top and threaten me. 

Louis: Let's skip to 'Love Dub Refix' ... I sorta 

think of this track as the ying to Burial's yang, 

it's weekend London in bright sunlight. Hazy, 

washed out, nostalgic. . . kinda genreless. 

Hannah: If the other were contentto lurk, 

this is just. . .contented. Must be love. 


The Ride (Static Caravan) 

Shuffle up band name, song title and label 
to make a dream vacation - or horror 
movie. It's yr psyche/life. 

Louis: Burly men. Out to tangle with guitars. 
Kick: Concentration faces. Working together 
on something important. 
Robin: Like a rawk Neu ! So far. . .so great. 
Louis: Lyrics are for pussies. Everything feels 
like it's being used percussively. 
Hannah: Squiggly sleepless synths on top. 
I think it's gonna be a long trip. 
Robin:This is very compelling, it's a page- 
turner of a track. 

Kick: Yeah, this kind of thing is super-easy 
to fuck up -to make horribly jammy or by 
numbers. This actually sounds convinced 
of its own importance. 

Hannah: Faster guitars! Don't know if 

I can keep up. 

Robin: It's spiralling intensely. 

Louis: Very severe rocking of the Chicago 


Hannah: SPACE NOISES! I'm there. 

Louis: Do you think they keep on like this 

til someone loses a limb. Like chicken? 


Watussi (City Slang) 

From country music to nightclubs 

everywhere, through Ewan Pearson's 

lauded remix of her 'Don't Let Stars Keep 

UsTangled Up' - and now bedroom early 

hours. Goodnight, sweet readers. 

Robin: I saw her live - she was fantastic. 

Hannah: Bubbles - lots of them. 

Kick: Very classic eccentric. Echo and muted 

beauty. But with a full-fat melody. 

Robin: Sounds like a grower to me. 

Hannah: It's got that starry-eyed dancer 

thing to it, yes. 

Louis: It's got a nice density. 

Kick: As sung from a de Chirico balcony. 

Her vocal hanging over the dancefloor, all 

doomed and romantic. As I've said, all my 

favourite dance music is a bit melancholic. 

Louis: Apart from 'I Like To Move It' by Reel 2 

Real featuringThe Mad Stuntman. 

Kick: Yes. That is, unless he were no longer 

allowed to move it. 

Louis: 'I (Would) Like To Move It'. 

Robin: 'Remember When We Moved It'. 

Kick: 'Please Help Me Move It'. 

Louis: 'Why Can't I Move It?' 

Kick/I LikedTo Move It'. 

singles of the month 

Hannah: Helen Love, 'Calm Down Dad' 
Louis and kick: Fr3e, 'Tribal Skank' 
Robin: Cave, 'The Ride' 

plan b 1 21 

the void 

when we meet 

Words: Jesse Darlin' and kicking_k 

Don't let anyone tell you music's 
dying. Music is growing - here 
come some more shoots 

Agent Ribbons 

Vintage twee from Sacramento, California, all 
blusher, bruises and long, sad notes drooping under 
their own weight. Add in black and white portraits, 
songs called 'Buried With You', 'Your Love Is The 
Smallest Doll' and 'The Boy With The Wooden Lips' 
(it's about Pinocchio, and is cute rather than smutty) 
for bittersweet waltzes for one. 

Athens Boys Choir 

"OK," disclaims the MySpace, "the name Athens 
Boys Choir can be a bit deceiving, but you can't 
blame a Jewish transsexual man living in the Deep 
South for having a sense of humour." Old-school 
beats and post-school queer theory mashed with 
retrostalgic visuals: there is pretty much nothing 
here not to like for anyone who's ever had gender 
angst, and that's pretty much everyone, right? 
Nota Bene: the video for 'Fagette' may be the best 
pansexual hip-hop phun flick ever. Check it. 

the style 


The afro-punk 
community has been 
building in the US for 
a few years, and with a 
documentary, festival 
and website (www. raising 
awareness everywhere, 
the kids who say (as 
one), "I was the only 
black kid at the show" 
are finally finding each 

Dragging A Dead Ox Through Water 

Start again from scratch musik- eccentric 
synths half-veiling bare beats, a voice 
meandering through the arrangements 
like a vine in search of a trunk to encircle. 
Winning #2 in Fader's Most Slept-On 2008 
(excellent idea for an award, by the way) and 
still, by the sounds of things, lost in the 
dream kingdom, Plan B recommends 
hitching yr wagon to this sad, strong beasi 
of burden, 

other. J*Davey (along 
with Janelle Monae) are one of the first acts set to 
take advantage, and can hopefully start to rock their 
moody and minimal jams outside the style ghetto. 
Like a fan says in the film: "I don't feel any less black 
'cause I'm different." 

Kumi Solo 

Pop is what happens when you're thinking of other 
people. Kumi Solo is the result of a J-Pop band 

break-up, and a 
relocation to France. 
'Triangle' is the perfect 
calm of someone 
forgetting to be sad for 
the length of one sunny 
afternoon, rippling 
lalalas, distant toytown 

The Do 

French/Finnish boy girl duo bust down 
irresistibly bombastic frip-hoppery with licks 
and ruffles, employing equal measures of 
swagger and swing made sweetly palatable 
by popalicious production. It's a big happy 
dressing-up box of inflections and 
influences: too slick to be twee and too cute 
to be hip, all of which is refreshing as hell. 
Now touring the world and about to please 
the daylights out of every easy-listened 
angel-head - and that meand you. 

trumpets and one girl 
singing to herself in the 
haze. She's classic, she's 
sweet and she deserves 
you. www.myspace. 


One woman and her 
accomplice wrapped 
in backroom hiss, 
knuckles rapping 
tabletop, words 
dropped so close to 
themicit'sa miracle 
it doesn't fuzz. She 
could be matte r-of- 
factly listing crimes 
of passion in Cardiff 
police station, her 
sidekick-who, ok, 
happens to be a guitar, 
so maybe best classed 
as a blunt instrument- 
fleshing out the details, 
like a psychopath's 
dead laughter. Which 
is to say, it's quite nice, 
this, www.myspace. 


Jolly, zeitgeistery LDN 
wonky with a merry drum machine from ex-Does 
It Offend You, Yeah?'s Morgan Quaintance and 
f renz, one of the newest of the newsters in the 
premix genre (sounds remixed, isn't); even the 
live show sounds like a remash, and that's quite 
a feat. Avant-garder than you'd think, Plugs are 
the soundtrack to those nowadays you have every 
so often in between the other days. 

Rob Wa I mart 

Someone has taken over the public address system 
and they probably hate humanity. Introducing 
Rob Walmart, a probable genius destined to be 
underappreciated except by ME and YOU. "What 
colour is the situation?" he asks woozily, over 
sirens. Before too long, it's shifted seamily to angry 
demand: "What do people eat?" like MK ULTRA 
FM, broadcasting out of some forgotten institution 
to an audience of enemies of society. Yay for 
illbience, forever. They can't and won't always 
lock us out or keep us down. 

22 | plan b 



Featuring members of: Arcade Fire, The Luyas, Snail ho use and Torngat 


May 27 • Ding walls (Middle &d f Camden Lack} * London 

hoHoTvEK'i'tTc Com 

J he|5 i n q J e 

ECfl I 3q 31 EBEflDBH 

eke, JK 



in the mix: relapse 

Words: Gordon Conrad 

Illustration: KaiWong 

America's most long-in-the- 
toothsome alternative metal label 
picks from the signed and unsigned 

Black Anvil Time Insults the Mind 

This album is ten tons of raw, misanthropic metal 
with pronounced influences from early Celtic Frost 
and Sodom in a modern metal shell. Each track is 
loaded with awesome riffs that require head-banging 
and raised fists. It's hard to believe this is their debut 
album and the first songs they've ever written. 

Municipal Waste Massive Aggressive 

The newest album from the best crossover band in 
the heavy music scene today. It's already clear that 
Massive Aggressive is stacked front-to-back with 
memorable songs, fresh anytime less. 

Obscura Cosmogenesis 

Obscura picked up the torch dropped with the passing 
of Death, and made the next logical step in extreme 
metal with this release. The songs are fast, technical, 
and progressive, but loaded with lush melodies and 
unbelievably symphonic arrangements. Incredible. 

Revocation Empire Of The Obscene 

Empire Of The Obscene is the mind-blowing debut 
from this relatively new trio. Much like Obscura, they 
move in the most technically proficient circles of metal, 
synthesising the best facets of the modern sound. 

Howl Three song demo 

Massive rocking metal in the early Baroness/ 
Mastodon/Kylesa vein. This band are already awesome 
and could be one of the most talked-about new metal 
bands of the next few years. Don't sleep ! 

Infernal War MySpace tracks 

While I'm not generally a big black metal fan, this is 
some of the most savage stuff I've heard in ages. Has 
me hooked based on he pure brutality alone. 

Vilipend Love Left To Rot EP 

Noisy, chaotic, dense post-whatever core/rock/etc. 
An unpolished gem of a band right now, but get into 
them before your friends and before they evolve into 

William Elliott Whitmore Animals In 
The Dark 

Heavy doesn't just mean loud. Whitmore's music 
comes from a place so pure and so deep that it 
resonates deeply with me. Animals, his newest record, 
keeps in the fine tradition of his epic earlier work. 

sharon van etten 

Words: Noel Gardner 

Photography: Cat Stevens 

It's weird - and frustrating - when the media or 
PR, trying to big up something genuinely great, 
do the supposedly great entity no favours. A 
soundbite one encounters several times when 
trawling online for Brooklyn folkist Sharon Van Etten 
- amid enchanted superlatives by everyone from 
bloggers to, in remarkable 'early out of the blocks' 
shocker, The Times - is "the current voice of New 
York". Heavens! She must be something special to 
be able to encapsulate the lifestyles and experiences 
of one of the most culturally diverse cities on earth. 
Except she doesn't agree, of course. " If it were 
possible for New York to only have one voice, 

'Music is being brought 
back to the people because 
of the economy and hard- 
to-control technologies' 

I wouldn't be living here. New York has made 
me a better writer and singer. You have to work 
really hard to be here and to play here, in order 
to succeed, whatever 'succeed' means." 

Moreover, she's 'merely' written an album, 
Because I Was In Love, featuring 1 1 utterly lovely 
chamber-folk numbers stripped to their skeleton 
and seemingly designed for solo rotation. It's 
released on Greg Weeks of Espers' Language 
Of Stone label; Weeks also co-produced the record 
with Sharon, and plays guitar and organ on some 
tracks. "He was really sensitive," says Sharon of 
her label boss' qualities in the studio, "knowing 
I wanted minimal accompaniment and sparse 
arrangements. We worked really well together. I like 
having the option of being sparse so I can perform 
live and still have the same effect as if I had a band." 

A recurring theme in folk-related scenes has 
been the pattern of ostensibly peculiar, against- 
the-tide people making similarly inclined music 
in similar surroundings which, as circumstances 
unravel, actually turns out to have real commercial 
potential. Van Etten's music is not 'kooky' or 
somesuch epithet, but nor is it smoothly digestible. 
If you want to see it as a missive from the US folk 
underground, knock yourself out, but, as the lady 
notes: "Folk is meant to be accessible. It is meant 
to be for everyone, so I think that in itself makes it 
mainstream. Music in general, these days, is being 
brought back to the people because of the economy 
and hard-to-control technologies. " (Conversely, 
Sharon's sole release prior to Because I Was In Love, 
an eight-song self-issued CD-R, was packaged with 
the sort of care and artistry that makes a fool of 

he who would live on downloads alone.) 

We're obliged to shout out to fans 
of Marissa Nadler's first two albums, 
the laments of Josephine Foster (albeit 
replacing that remarkable quality of 
Foster's, her ability to sound old-timey 
like she's recording with a ouija board, 
with a less itchily claustrophobic air) and 
the scuffed crystal voice of Meg Baird 
from Espers -who Sharon supported 
on a brief UK tour in January 2008, meeting Weeks 
in the process. It wouldn't be too far out to invoke 
the spirit of Sixties coffeehouse heroines like Karen 
Dalton and Linda Perhacs, either, although you 
don't get the impression that either Van Etten 
or Weeks were attempting to hark back to any 
of folk's last five decades. 

The 'women being compared to women' thing, 
as much as it's often grating, fits Sharon just dandy, 
she says. "I think women are more quick to talk 
about love, as well as being the first to openly admit 
they're in love. I think there is a part of a female's 
vocal register that hits a chord in me I will never be 
able to explain - but makes me feel a connection, 
helps me feel less alone. " 

24 1 plan b 






Tartufi sleep on fireworks. Cramped into a bursting 
van on the North Eastern apex of a trans-American 
tour, far away from their San Francisco home, they've 
succumbed to singer/guitarist Lynne Angel's forbidden 
love of explosives. 

"We stopped and bought a huge shipping box of 
fireworks," says drummer Brian Gorman. "We're going 
to blow them up tonight and the excitement level is 
high. If we had one of those fund-raising thermometers 
we'd be bursting through the top with red mercury." 

Bubbling around the Bay Area for most of this 
decadejartufisheda member and most of their pop 
sensibilities circa 2006. In their previous incarnation 
they were perennially compared to the Go-Gos 
("a little condescending" says Lynne). Now they 
craft gently dense post-rock like a rustic Tortoise. 

"Our sound came from pure rage," says Brian. 
"We were really frustrated with how the band was 
before, and confronted with the possibility that 
we would have to stop. That was completely 
unacceptable for Lynne and I, so we locked ourselves 
in the studio for three months and tried to explore 
any idea that each of us had." 

The new Tartufi sound comes via banks of looping 
pedals and an ever-growing miscellany of percussion. 
'Dot Dash' is enveloped by descending guitar figures 
and Lynne's Viking-song vocals, reproducing with 
themselves. Distant voices carry on running long after 
the cliff of drums and guitars has elapsed, stretching 
into the void before gradually falling into nothingness. 

" Every night there are some areas where there's 
either a mistake or what turns out to be a really cool 
embellishment," says Brian. "It forces us to play in 
time signatures which don't exist.That gets really fun." 
Imperfection feels built into their music by design. 
"Our least reliable piece of equipment is my foot," 
says Lynne. "Always pressing pedals on the 'one' 
and making sure my guitar playing fits is harder than 
making sure the pedals don't have mechanical faults." 

Back at home, Tartufi's Thread collective releases 
comps of San Francisco bands and acts as a catch-all 
music career support centre. They also run the Saturday 
Morning Rock Out programme, which teaches four-to- 
seven year-olds the fundamentals of music making. 
"We just had our most recent CD release party for the 
kids, where two bands played," says Brian. "The kids 
named their own bands so we had Disco Pirates Online 
(Rock!) andThe Smoke Bears." 

Lynne adds: "They write their own lyrics, and 
just blurt out whatever they want. They're like, 'We're 
writing a song about Scatty Boo-Boo, this man who 
wears diapers all the time', and the rest of the kids 
are like "YEAHHH ! " and we all get into it. 

" If we were less honest people, the whole next 
Tartufi record would be written by four to seven 


Words: Kev Kharas 

NYG. Not UKG. NYG - as in 'New York Garage', 
as in 'gar-ij', as in a hybrid, as in an invader. Much 
chatter's been had over Simon Reynolds' idea 
of a 'hardcore continuum', a lineage that since 
has seen UK dance music distinguish itself from 
American house and techno. Reynolds argues that 
some basic tenets - among them diasporic Afro- 
Caribbean bass weight, MCs, breakbeats and a 
subculture of clubs, dubplates and pirate radio - 
have coursed through the blood of every non- 
spoddy British dance strain of the last 20 years. 
Back the bloodlines go, from rave on to jungle, then 
to speed garage and turn-of-the-century 2-Step, 
after which the 'nuum seemed to see Darwin in the 

'The groove, the 
rhythm in your step' 

face of ageing ravers, went for trigamy and planted 
its sullen seed in grime, dubstep and bassline. 

You'll have heard of others - 'Wonky'? 'UK 
Funky'? - but people are still a bit 'Wot Do You Call 
It?' about those, so the DNA tests can wait. NYG - 
we're back - is the music that Andrew 'FaltyDL' 
Lustman started making when he first tumbled 
off the continuum in 1 995 (jungle becomes 
drum'n'bass), only to clamber back aboard in 
1 997 (Dem 2 release 'Destiny') and then again last 
summer. What's important, though, is that all that 
tumbling and clambering only took Drew two years. 

What? Reach over the decks and rewind, all the 
way back to year 00:00. Or 1 996, when the FaltyDL 
story starts. 

"That's my background I guess," Drew 
concludes enthusiastically. " Everyone had an 

amazing album that year- Drum 'N'Bass For Papa, 
Feed Me Weird Things, Richard D James Album. 
That's where I'm coming from. That special time 
where with the right kind of eyes you can almost 
see the high-water-mark - that place where the 
wave finally broke and rolled back. It had nowhere 
to go from there, yet everywhere to be. " 

The fact that Drew didn't start making jungle 
of his own until two years ago is interesting, as is 
his choice of cultural totems. All three of the albums 
he mentions - by Luke Vibert, Squarepusher and 
Aphex Twin, respectively - dealt with jungle or 
drum'n'bass in the abstract; records that could 
reach in and screw around with the sound because 
they hadn't been fostered by or have to answer 
to the community, evidenced in their makers' 
eventual abandonment of the jungle sound. 

Stunning new FaltyDL full-length Love Is A 
Liability is similar in its non-linear appropriation of 
British dance music but we've all moved on since 
1 996, so the template must be updated: To New 
York', like the majority of the record, skips along 
on a hyped 2-step bounce, while 'Our Love' is 
poised sublimely between that dubstep bass 
which seems to swell up from the bowels of a 
great ship and the alien synth spools of Terrence 
Dixon (who, in tandem with techno Godfather Juan 
Atkins, helped revise Detroit's minimal blueprint). 

It's poise that most characterises the alien sounds 
of FaltyDL (" Falty for short, " since he was 1 2). Tiring 
of the "awful jungle renditions" he was making two 
years ago, Drew "wanted to slow down, I needed 
to slow down. I dropped the BPM by about 40 and 
found this shuffle. It's amazing." 

Secure in his shuffle and the low-centre of 
gravity UK bass traditions afford, Drew hopes 
FaltyDL "will eventually bring out this sound I have 
been hearing in my head forever." 

And what is that sound? 

"The groove, the rhythm in your step. You, 
yours! I watch you people all day out my window." 

That's FaltyDL -watching on with nowhere to 
go, yet everywhere to be. 

26 1 plan b 


! In I 


NME: "Sweet, subtle and with one hell of a kick • 

ROCK SOUND: "Crammed with indie-rock anthems" 

e a good cocktail" 

New single "Antibodies" out now on cassette and download. All formats 
feature brand new b-sides and remixes. 


l T J k LI I Ultll 


e highly anticipated proper follow-up to the highly acclaimed Writ 
Block. Limited double-disc edition includes their recent instrumental 
vinyl-only album, Seaside Rock, on CD for the first time. 

Includes the singles "Nothing To Worry About" & "It Don't Move Me". 

iH»]a»j:€»]:a:^^ii:i»ai:i^i T itKii[>€Viii 

i Mi Oil KKST 




Our 2nd solo album from Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes brings his band 
mates more to the fore, with a fuller sound that will be familiar to anyone 
that caught the Mystic Valley Band on tour. 

Q "this is superbly played, full-blooded country rock" > 



The entire third Bloc Party album remixed by Herve, Armand Van Helden, 
Mogwai, Gold Panda, No Age, John B, Phones and others. 

Look out for digital exclusive mixes from Fennesz, Foals and Sky Larkin. 


1 CD/ 12" /DOWNLOAD 

8th JUNE 

Debut release from Wichita's latest signing, Lissy Trullie from New York City. 
It's been said that they sound like Chrissie Hynde fronting Television, and that 
comparison gets somewhere close. We immediately fell in love with these six 
hook-laden, sharp-tongued songs. We hope that you feel the same way when 
you hearthem. 


a 21 track compilation of new and unsigned bands 
compiled by Huw Stephens. Songs, many exclusive, 
from artists such as We Have Band, Banjo Or 
Freakout, Copy Haho, Stricken City, Young Fathers 
and Gold Panda. Only available on iTunes for £4.99. 



the void 

god help the girl 

Words: Alistair Fitchett 

Illustration: Anna Higgie 

Plan B enquires into what the hell Stuart Murdoch is doing in 2009 

Four years ago, an anonymous advert appeared 
in Glasgow's List magazine. A call for girl singers 
to be involved in a new group project, it had been 
placed by Belle And Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch 
as the first step in what has evolved into his/their 
new God Help The Girl album. It's a soundtrack 
to a film yet to be made, peopled by characters 
pulled from Stuart's imagination; celebrating girl 
groups past, present and future. Perhaps. 

"To be honest, I think I used the girl group 
thing lazily in my little advert. I had a couple of 
songs and the idea was to get three girls together 
and to make a great record. But then I went off 
to do B&S for a couple of years, and when I came 
back it had become an entirely different thing. 
I realised that this was a character singing and 
the character kept growing with me. She started 
singing different songs, expressing herself in 
different ways. And that's what you hear 
on the record." 

Girl group tag or not, the record does seem 
like a precious antidote to an overdose of earnest, 
bearded Men In Rock these past few years. 
Lightness and fun shines through the dark edges 
of the characters' stories. 

"Well, I only get into these things for fun. 
I write the songs, then want to work with them 
and, you know, meet new people. And I wanted 
them to have fun with it too. But nothing I've 
ever done is conscious. A song arrives, usually 
when you wake up first thing in the morning, 
and then that's your job for the day. And then 
it turns into your job for the next couple of years. 
When a record like this eventually tumbles out 
it's just grown. 

"I admit that I'm a complete pleasure seeker. 
I'm aware that it might seem an extremely selfish 
thing to say, but it's all about pleasing yourself if 
you're ever going to make anything good at all." 

How does selfishness translate to a project like 
this? Was there freedom for the singers to 
contribute to the creative process, or did you keep 
a tight reign? 

"I've been an absolute dictator on this one. 
Just because the process was difficult. It shambled 
along for years, interrupted by B&S. So although it 
was ever-changing, it did start and finish with me. 
But I am desperate at some point to free up the 

'This was a character 
singing and the 
character kept 
growing with me' 

people that were involved in this and try to give 
the thing a life of its own because I think they 
deserve that." 

This is the problem that exists with side projects, 
of course. How much focus dare you put into the 
project at the expense of your main group activity? 
How much dare you make it mess with your core 
audiences' expectations? It's hard to disconnect 
God Help The Girl's self-titled album from Belle 
And Sebastian, not just because they are Stuart's 
songs, but because they are also coloured in by 
essentially the same band. That colouring, though, 

is different. More orchestrated. Jazzier. More space. 
Stylistically it often harks back to the birth of the 
teenager; a wide-eyed Fifties innocence cloaking 
a darker undercurrent. So think of the charms of 
Linda Scott, for example, or Connie Stevens. In 
particular think 'Sixteen Reasons' in Mulholland 
Drive; sweetness and light in the midst of darkness, 
death and despair. Or The Style Council on Cafe 
Bleu, another record of ambition that cast an eye 
to previous Pop constructions to inform its present 
moment. And just as that record illuminated 
possible future directions, so God Help The Girl 
feels like a punctuation point. Perhaps that is as 
it should be. Literally, a record of a stage on the 
creative process. 

And let's not forget that this story that unfolds 
through song belongs to a wider scope: a film script 
is already at second draft stage, with a producer in 
the wings. I must admit I'm eager to see another 
classic Glasgow film. Something that can sit up 
there alongside That Sinking Feeling. 

"Oh yes- 1 liked the spirit of that film, definitely. 
And that's important. I'm not going to get too 
bogged down with trying to make the film a certain 
thing. If it happens it's going to be my first film and 
I'm going to make mistakes, but as long as it's got 
a good spirit I'll be happy." 

It's about imagining a 'better summer'. 
Certainly better than is typical in Glasgow, because 
my memories are all wind and rain with the very 
occasional brief ray of sunshine. 

" Exactly! So I'm talking about a golden summer 
than never existed. . .a series of unlikely events. " 

28 1 plan b 



Desire Lines 

Smalt town Supersound 

Out Now 

London's Idjut Boys (Dan 
Tyler & Conrad McDonnell) 
El Rune LinrJbaek of Oslo 
are Neanderthals. ^Desire 
Lines' is tneir chosen path 
of beautiful & mellow 
balearic disco. A warm 
& dreamy blend of du b . 
folk, prog, kraut, 
psychedelia and 70s west- 

Summer Specials 

Released 8/6/09 

Wawes aka San Diego's 
Nathan Daniel Williams 
takes his influences from 

everything, from sunshine 
pep, slacker pop, $urt rocK 
teenage suburban punk £ 
crackling lo-fl. 

A wondrous soundtrack to 
a never ending summer...." 

Gran Ronde 
Secret Rooms 

Friends Vs Records 

Released: 15/6/09 
Gran Ronde's stunning 
debut album 'Secret 
Rooms' features 10 
superb tracks of soaring 
melodies, impassioned 
vocals, killer guitars and 
a singular vision and will 
delight fans of Interpol, 

The Editors and The 


The Wave Pictures 

If You Leave \t Alone 

;\1 y,M ■ WfjSflr Mo$ht 

Out Now 

The Wave Pictures are 
currently conjuring some of 
the moat magnificent pop in 
town - Guardian 
Another stunning record of 
soft, sweet love songs Ihat 
could deftest even the 
coldest of hearts - Hmger 
Guaranteed to be picked up 
i and smiled ai over and over 
• again - Stool Pigeon 

tt jftju Iaavb Lt alano 







The Answering 


Another City, Another 


Heist Of Hit 

Released: 15/B/Q9 
"Their effervescent guitar 
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melodies lie somewhere 
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the indie-pop of the mid 
SOV - Guanfn 

'Pavement for the pill 
popping generation" 

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online and check 

the void 

being and somethingness: 
learning to fight 

Words: Frances Morgan 
Illustration: Linda Coulter 

Once more closer to the edit, 
where music meets life 

"Is there no way out of the mind?" asks Marnie 
Stern in 'Ruler', stabbing the same note eighttimes. 

Last night I went over to the hardest bag and 
crunched my left fist into it carelessly. Not ready, 
not focused; felt a jolt in shoulder and elbow and 
jaw. The dull thud of a bad day. I swung my right fist. 
Better. I carried on, both fists, until the critical voice 
became a senseless mutter. The bag hung fat and 
monolithic, black with a strip of red tape at each 
end. Unlike the others, it is too hard to lose its form. 
It is everything you can't change. I hit it until the bell 
shrilled. Arms prickling with tiny diamond points of 
heat. Heartbeat and bloodrush. The thuds, squeaks 
and slaps of feet and fists and the fwwwwp of 
plastic ropes in the long, low room. 

The video for Marnie Stern's 'Ruler' is a cute 
spoof of training scenes from the Rocky films: 
Marnie jogs, punches cuts of meat and fists the 
air on the steps of civic buildings, wearing a bright 
smile and retro sportswear. In her music, Marnie 
Stern turns inside out that macho stereotype, the 
virtuoso electric guitarist. She is one, yet she is not 
one, mixing technical expertise with idiosyncratic 
songwriting, and footnoting that technique with 
lyrical commentary on what it means to achieve and 
be a creative person. In the video, she gently satirises 
the regime of boxing training, yet it's known that 
she has an intensive practice regime of her own. 

Around the same time, Sophie Heawood 
reports in Plan B that Bat For Lashes' Natasha 
Khan "fantasises about being Rocky, getting 
into the boxing ring". "There's a romanticisation 
about the interaction between two fighters," Khan 
says.Coming as it does after musings on dolphin 
communication, it's easy to roll one's eyes at her 

whimsy. But it's an interesting fantasy, from 
a singer whose imagery is of soft mysticism 
and witchy femininity; and it's not purely fantasy, 
either, for she speaks in direct reference to the 
world-class squash players in her family. The 
exchange is revealing of a musician who has 
the drive of a sportswoman but who cloaks it in 
a dressing-up-box aesthetic because an ethereal 
woman is more acceptable than a tough one. 
Meanwhile, Stern lyrically lauds the euphoric 
possibilities of extreme endurance and capability — 
but visually, softens her drive with humour, perhaps 
in anticipation of its effect on the soft flesh and 
irony-savvy minds of her listeners, for whom a play- 
acted press-up is more palatable than the real thing. 
The musical subculture they-and probablyyou 
- inhabit keeps its distance from corporeality. Bodies 

I'm no longer an 
outsider to my own 

come second to styles, objects and the constant, 
almost subconscious exchange of reference points. 
An imaginative life can be lived wherein physicality 
is secondary. "Is there no way out of the mind?" 
It is tempting to stay there. For anyone who has 
struggled with detachment and social anxiety, it is 
sometimes the best option. Butthecosplay of indie 
culture has diminishing returns as you physically 
age. There have not yet been written many roles 
for older women within it, for one thing, and the 
prospect of adopting a state of perpetual girlishness 
made my flesh creep as I entered my thirties. No, it 
made my flesh clamour for my attention. It seemed 
that I could not ignore myself any longer, and I could 
not ignore Other People. Certainly it is hard to see 
them as hell when you're sweating and brick-faced, 
doing squat thrusts together. 

The men in my class hit without hesitation, the 
fundamental aim of the exercise never in question. 
With the few other women there, negotiations 
(unspoken) hang in the air. The first time sparring, 
I apologised when I landed a punch, and felt tearful 
when one landed on me. Some women box purely 
for the moves, as if they're dancing: one told me 
she was trying not to " make contact" , so I tried not 
to either. Another woman would rather fight with 
men than with me, as if it's a better test of her skill. 
Another has twice winded me with a blow to the 
solar plexus. I felt amazing as I fought for breath, 
but she looked worried and irritated: had she hurt 
me? Should she feel bad? The men just fight. They 
have been doing it all their lives and no one told 
them they shouldn't. 

I've lived a life well insulated from physical 
violence, and I am glad of that. More difficult to feel 
good about is a fear of any conflict at all, which is 
justified as pacifism, reasonableness, objectivity, and 
which disguises an anger thatfeels amorphous and 
unnameable. At boxing class, the anger has a shape, 
and I knock (and crunch, and skip) the shit out of it. 
If there is a reason why I mythologise women who 
can fight, Jarboe and Lucia Rijker and, yes, Katee 
Sackhoff as Starbuck in BattlestarGalactica, and 
why I chose (instead of Fitness First or a bit more 
cycling) a place whose walls are decorated with 
posters for long-ago fights at Stratford Arena and 
quotes from Muhammad Ali, and whose costume 
is sweat-stiffened bandages, it is probably this. 

Is my fighting, as Eugene Robinson has it, 
"expressively honest"? No: a real fighter would see 
an outsider, play-acting like Marnie Stern or Natasha 
Khan. Yet lam no longer an outsider to my own 
body. I may not be able to kick your ass or floor an 
attacker, but I feel defended nonetheless, because 
no one can tell me now what form I should take. 

The trainer yells like we're soldiers at boot camp. 
The room is hazy with body heat. I watch a new 
terrain of musculature forming beneath my skin. 
It is the ultimate play-act; but maybe also it is one 
of the more beautiful things that's happened to me. 
Away out of the mind. A way back in. 

30 1 plan b 

DIRTY PROJECTORS / Stillness Is The Move 

12" & Digital 


D, Cassette & Digil 



JOKER'S DAUGHTER / The Last Laugh 

CD & Digital / 15th June 

CASS McCOMBS / Dreams-Come-True-Girl 


CASS McCOMBS / Catacombs 

2xLP, CD & Digital 


CD & Digita 


■ * 




.- > 

drinking with the devil 

Words: John Doran 

If Trappist monks played psychedelic rock # it would 
probably sound a lot like Flemish funeral folk collective 
Sylvester Anfang II 

"We deny our northernness to such an extent that 
we're unfamiliar with these countries that share 
our climate. They might remind us of ourselves for 
they too are engaged in a perpetual battle denying 
their northernness. To be northern is to be forever 
ill at ease with yourself." 

-Jonathan Meades, Magnetic North 

Is there a difference in personality that exists 
between the Europe of wine and olive oil and 
the Europe of beer and herring? Does the north 
start in Belgium? 

" People in the south have a more 
relaxed attitude towards life, " writes Willem 
Moorthammers of Belgium's Sylvester Anfang II. 
"It's a stereotype but like most of them, there 
is a core of truth. I personally have no affiliation 
with southern Europe. Temperatures are way 
too high over there, and there are not enough 
fair-haired maidens with porcelain skin. I don't 
know if Belgium is the beginning of the north. 
Maybe Flanders is, because the southern part of 
Belgium is more 'southern' in mentality I guess." 

One year ago, I travelled to Belgium with the 
primary intention of getting drunk, the secondary 
aim of watching Silvester Anfang - as they were 
then known - live, and the tertiary objective of 
testing Jonathan Meades' theory that there is 
a definable line that divides north and south Europe. 
This line is the only true European border, marked 
at the point where soil and climate no longer 
support wine-producing grapes. Instead, human 
ingenuity turns to beer and grain-distilled spirits, 
such as gin. Step across this line and you are out 
of the human comfort zone. Step across this line 
and you are in the north. 

To find the start of the north I had to travel south. 
To Leuven, in fact, a collegiate town that looked like 
a miniature village expanded to human scale. The 
university campus and its environs represented an 
imaginary Mason-Dixon Line between the Flemish- 
speaking Flanders, above, and the French-speaking 
Wallonia, below. This place merely represented 
the rift, however, as there was nothing physical to 
look at- no passport control, no Hadrian's Wall, no 
barbed wire fence. The flatter the terrain, the more 
interesting the substrata, though. Under the soil, 
sedimentary layers of beer bottles, the millions of 
skeletons of the WWI slaughtered and countless 
herring bones formed tiers. Step over this threshold 
in one direction and your dowsing sticks would 
buckle and break; step over it in the opposite 
direction and the weight of the world would lift 
blissfully from your shoulders. In the flat fields just 
outside Leuven, it was as if there was a notional tour 
guide, facing west. "To your left," she said, "You 
can see a happy family sat in a sun dappled olive 
orchard dining on fresh produce and fine wine. 
And to your right we have a miserable fat man lying 
on a bare mattress in a concrete room, drinking until 
he has the courage to kill himself." 

Sylvester Anfang II - a collective in the best 
amorphous sense, today represented by band 
spokesmen Willem (drums, synth), Chief (guitar, 
percussion) and Sloow (guitar, oscillations) - have 
asked if we can conduct the interview by email. 
Flemish-speakers, they worry their spoken English 
will not suffice, but they use the opportunity to 
eulogise about long-forgotten psychedelic 
ensembles and to mock my questions mercilessly. 

I ask about the cliche of the northerner who 
drinks to forget, who marinades himself in beer and 
vodka before killing himself. Is it possible to escape 
from the merciless grip of alcohol in Belgium? 

Chief: "No, it isn't. I can't wait to kill myself." 

Sloow: "I failed killing myself a couple years 
ago because I was too drunk. " 

Willem: "I never got caught in the misery- 
inducing trap of alcohol. Beer smells like armpits." 

Belgian and Dutch art represents all that is good 
about the art of the northern climes -intensity, 
complexity of form and idea, an ultra-reality in 
opposition to the warmth and lack of clarity of 
southern art-thinkthefine brush strokes of Bosch, 
Magritte, Van Eyck, Bouts. Is Sylvester Anfang's 
art northern? 

"We are definitely closer to German Kraut and 
Swedish psych than Italian prog," agrees Sloow. 
"But I like [symphonic Swiss prog-rockers] 
Agamemnon and [Italian prog-rockers] Aktuala too. 
It's more about ideas and personality than the place 
you live. I seek to lose the ego in a hallucinatory 
kaleidoscope of surreal visions and cosmic sounds. 
Music as a way to connect with the deeper realms 
of universal consciousness beyond the inner/outer 
dichotomy. A gateway to real life. " 

They were creepy and quiet, and it immediately 
felt as if it would make more sense to watch them in 
situ. To see them in some lowlander bar, channeling 
Dennis Wheatley's pre-Black Sabbath Satanism of 
reefer-mad chicks gone wild, evil, moustachioed 
men in nylon slacks and skulls used as candle- 
holders. The Grimm-up-north aesthetics of kvlt 
black metal -the most northern music imaginable! 
- played out at the threshold of the south, its dark 
codifications applied to the sick sound of Soon Over 
Babaluma, Guru Guru and the Swedish psych of the 
Baby Grandmothers. Apparently Clay Ruby of Burial 
Hex initially thought Silvester Anfang actually were 
1 5-year-old Satanists when he heard tapes of them 
and got them signed them to the Aurora Borealis 
label. Reassured that they were just 25-year-old 
stoners, he joined the group as occasional singer. 

In Belgium, they arranged their dinky amps in 
a semi-circle in amongst the audience with Kaoss 
pads, keyboards and melodicas snaking away on 
the floor, like adders fleeing burning stubble. They 
played quietly, meaning the audience had to stand 
in complete silence. (Which they did! Three cheers 
for Belgian civility!) Every nuance was discernable - 
every post-Robby Krieger riff, every Satanic 
incantation, every synthetic wash in complete 
clarity. They were conjuring an invisible wall, 
the kind that could be drawn onto a map like an 
advancing low pressure front. They were guards 
and gatekeepers of northern musical tradition, 
keeping the tranquillity of the south at bay. 

I spenttwo days drinking Belgian beer and it 
was one of the most distressing experiences of my 
life (although the gig was good). Which makes me 
wonder: does the music of Sylvester Anfang II make 
more sense to the fogged mind of the ale drinker? 

Chief: "Yes, I think it does. Our music comes 
from a trance, trying to balance our chakras after 
or while being intoxicated in one way or another." 

Willem: "I'm always the sober musician during 
recordings. That's why I'm the only one not saying 
things like 'Are you sure we actually recorded 
something as demented as that?' and 'How the 
hell did six peasants like ourselves come up with 
something as mind-frying and brain-melting as 
that?' Maybe the distress in our music is caused by 
the attic that we record in. There's not a lot of space 
there and the best jams are recorded at night, in the 
light of one single lightbulb." 

A year on from my trip to Belgium, there's a new 
album, entitled Sylvester Anfang II (and the band's 
name has changed to match it, 'II' numeral and all). 

'In our attic there is not a lot of space 
and the best jams are recorded at 
night, in the light of one single bulb' 

Willem: "Our music is beyond geography. And 
I really hope our music doesn't make people happy, 
like some of that flamenco shit. " 

In Leuven's town square, the magnificent 
St Pieterskerk was the only evidence that the 
temporal realm had been affected by Meades' 
invisible division. A tree carved into a towering 
pulpit showed St Norbert being dismounted by 
a lightning bolt. A weeping Christ loomed in the 
shadows, arms outstretched. A Dieric Bouts triptych 
showed St Erasmus praying as his innards were 
winched out of his frame by two sneering brutes. 

Silvester Anfang were an intriguing proposition. 
I'd seen them summoning up their daemonic noise 
before, in the Whitechapel Gallery supporting 
Wisconsin 'horror electronics' musician Burial Hex. 

The ensemble has grown to encompass Clay Ruby 
and two Belgian musicians, Bram Devens of Ignatz 
and Stef Heeren of witchcraft-inspired folk project 
Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat. And the sleeve is 
covered in Occult imagery: naked maidens cradling 
skulls, pencil drawing of black masses. Why Satan? 

Chief: "To be really honest, I am through with 
that dude ever since I heard The Habibiyya's If Man 
But Knew [ 1 972 LP, recorded after the band 
converted to Suf ism]." 

Willem: "I still really like Satan, but the true 
answer for all life's mysteries can be found in Jesus 
psych. Listen to Azitis, Concrete Rubber Band and 
Last Call Of Shiloh and you will see the light. " 

Do you believe in free will? 

Sloow: "I believe all people should be free. 
Peace on you." 

plan b 1 33 

talk of the town 

Words: Neil Kulkarni 

Photography: Samuel Hicks, Make-up: Melissa Evans, Stylist: Sarah Nashy 

Spinning growing pains into lyrics and rhymes, Speech Debelle is one of 
the brightest young stars in British rap -scratch that British music full stop 

The poet is on a lunchbreak. The office expects 
her back in an hour. She spears a piece of squid 
and I ask her when language first revealed its 
magic to her. 

"We were in primary school. We were doing 
a project on Father Christmas. I can't remember 
if it was my idea or the teachers but I remember 
feeling deeply compelled to do my entire project 
as a poem. From that point on I was mesmerised 
by words. They were all I was interested in at 
school. Naturally I was drawn to rap because 
that's the purest art of using words, and it's the 
most free poetry out there. English was the only 
lesson I paid attention in. Too clever for my own 
good. A waste of a free education, yeah. " 

Do you live life constantly thinking of rhymes? 

" I try not to - 1 don't want to exploit 
situations. But words are my religion. The way 
they make me feel - 1 find solace in them. And 
I love solitude. I actively seek it out. I'm selfish 
with my time. Friends tell me it can come across 
a little rude. If I don't want to say good morning 
I won't. I blank people if I want my own time and 
space. Once people get used to it they're fine 
but I have to make a conscious effort not to 
appear utterly hostile. See, I need time with 
my own thoughts." 

What are you? A rapper? A poet? An artist? 

"I'm a thief. I go out seeking inspiration. At 
a job, at someone's house, in the street. I see it, 
steal it, go home. And then I start work." 

stay focused on your path 

On Carnaby Styou can smell the decomposition. 
From the shade of the newsstand, you spy the 
same old story from top-shelf to redtop, the 
same faces from the same places, the same 
backs patted, the same lineage hawked. Out in 
the street, milling tourists looking for dead spirit 
dart between rip-off merchants to be sold T-shirts 
and carrier bags that will prove how close they 
got. You've spent another hour of your life lost 
in Soho for the same old reason as ever. Looking 
for a star. Except this time you've been asked 
to muddy the issue with someone precious, 
a real star, the kind on the rise -the kind who 
will never have a part in British pop's slow rot, 
the kind who posits a genuinely alternative 
future. Last summer a record arrived that broke 
your heart, blew your mind, did things to your 
heartstrings so startling it was like feeling nerves 
reawaken. The joint was called 'Searching' and it 
sounded like nothing else. The band played with 
Brixton stealth and a Canterbury space, hard as 
grey slate, funky as fuck, poignant as a glimpse 
of distant green, heart-stopping as the sight 
of the sea for the long-landlocked. This wasn't 
just 'jazzy' hip-hop. It seemed like hip-hop 
informed by the same UK anti-history and 
dissident non-agenda as The Brotherhood's '96 
classic 'Elementalz' -steeped and suffused with 

34 1 plan b 

the spirit of Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, Linton 
Kwesi Johnson, The Durutti Column. Such 
chiaroscuro in the gaps between beats, such 
suggestion between the chords. And then 
the voice came in and things got even more 
complicated, too much to deal with. It was a 
young-sounding voice- like a kid, almost. But 
what it was saying was anything but childish. 
It told a story of hostel-life, real unsubsidised 
poverty, of bad sights and bad feelings - located 
in a reality you understood in an instant but shot 
through with a humanity and complexity that 
charged all with life. This person knew about life 
as lived out here. You hoped they were OK now 
but you wanted to know. You knew that judging 
the age of the voice might have been a mistake - 
this track had insights, a depth and a drive to 
its hope that seemed ahead of its years. It was 
the most stunning debut single I'd heard in what 
felt like an age, it was by a rapper called Speech 
Debelle, who is 27, and from South London. 
Since then she's made an album called Speech 
Therapy that will put a similarly volcanic hole in 
the fabric of '09. Hear it. The album is her story. 

"Scared? No," she says in that voice that 
slays you. I've just asked her if she's bricking 
it this close to the album's release. " I'm just 
very relieved to have an album finished. It's the 
biggest accomplishment of my life. I'm used to 
recording. But finishing things isn'tsomething 
I'm great at. Over the years I must have hundreds 
of tracks but none of them ever got finished. 
Lots of false starts. When I was 17,1 spoke to 
Sony about setting up a label. Full of ideas and 
energy cos I was young, but completely out of 
my depth. Now I'm unswerving." 

There's interest in Speech from everyone 
who's heard her. Much of it seeks the lumpen 
cause-effect of biographical detail. Fuck that. 
It's all in the album and I will not simplify it. Hear 
it. How are you finding the interview process? 

"I'd belying if I said I didn't like talking about 
myself. I don't mind expressing my feelings. But 
I didn't expect it to be easy, anyway. Other artists 
are allowed to be artists. Hip-hop artists have 
to have some hard luck story, some 'gritty' reality 
behind it all -we're not allowed the complexity 
and abilities of imagination that normal pop 
artists are allowed. I was prepared for that, 
but it's still been a rude awakening - I've really 
realised in the past few weeks what a machine 
I'm up against. " 

Me so dumb. What machine? 

"Well -fundamentally the music industry, 
in this country, is a white-wash. So my work 
has to be rationalised by people. It's not allowed 
to simply be. I'm not allowed to just be normal. 
I'm black so I have to have all kinds of obvious 
reasons and roots and backstory to my lyrics. 
I can't be complex, I must make my music 
for this or that reason, always tied to my 
personal life." 

You said that language started obsessing 
you at a young age - when did rhyming stop 
being something to just play with and become 
something that you needed? 

"When I started having real emotions. I got 
to about the age of 1 6 and I started having 
feelings beyond sensations for the first time. 
It's kinda like when you smoke weed for the 
first time and laugh -that can feel like the first 
time you've laughed in your life. When I was 1 6 
I started experiencing real grown-up emotions 
for the first time in my life and my words, my 
poetry and my rhymes started becoming an 
outlet for all that." 

Who were your early inspirations, musically 
or otherwise? 

"Y'know what? It wasn't some MC or 
some book. It was speaking to older people. 
I loved the way older people spoke in parables, 
riddles, stories that you can relate to so many 
different things. My granddad's stories stuck 
with meforthe longest time- I'd keep hassling 
him to tell me them again and again. And just 
listening to them talk about things was a huge 
inspiration to me. It was amazing to me to 
hear people use words as if they mattered, as 
if they were important, and using words that my 
friends and people my age didn't use at all. Old 
words, charged with meaning and importance, 
because they remembered a time when words 
really mattered." 

Presumably this love of vintage expression 
left you somewhat at odds with your peers? 

'Never mind the role of the artist being 
I political - the role of a human being is 
| to be political' 


111 I IIiIIiiiiIiIiIIIIImH 


speech debelle 

"Definitely. All my life I've felt very isolated 
within my own age group. Even now, in 
conversation with friends from back then, 
they all say 'You were always different.' They 
tell me that I spoke about things that made very 
little sense to them at the time but now that they're 
older they understand a little bit more. I didn't care 
who my heroes were meant to be but when I was 
a teenager I was obsessed with the way that Tupac, 
or Malcolm X could use words to conjure up such 
emotion. Going to church and hearing the pastor as 
well -these aren't words that just coast on by or join 
the babble of everyone else -this is communication 
that hits you like a train. That's what I love." 

check your paragraphs, speaking 
in parables 

You may have forgotten that albums can do what 
Speech Therapy does, can be catchy and deep, 
addictive and always justout-of-reach, dazzling 
and intimate. Speech never tries to impress. There's 
no lunatic speed here, nothing competitive, no lazy 
experiment or clever-clever subversion. There's little 
ego, no bragging, much strength, plenty of gags 
('Working Weak' is the bitching blues a whole 
generation of office-cubicle drones have been 
waiting for) and much self-deprecation. It's her 
and her life so far on wax, from the rhymes to the 
mix of dub and pop and funk and off-kilter folk 
(check the stunning 'Better Days' and 'Live And 
Learn' as guides) that she couches them with. 
And you get charmed, chilled, danced with, 
astounded, immersed in another's' vision. 
It's a generous, compassionate and ultimately 
hugely moving record. Shenevertalksdowntoyou. 

on the planet, but the story he told, and the way 
he made you believe it- 1 remember just being 
totally still, unable to move, and thinking 'I want 
to do that'." 

The knack is making words worked out 
painstakingly appear like a spontaneous emanation, 
like they're occurring to you at the moment of 
performance. On the album we don't just get good 
'takes'. It sounds like you're actually as affected, 
choked-up, moved, by the words you're saying 
as the listeners are. 

"Well, what 'Pac had was this ability to make 
you believe it. A lot of the songs on this album I've 
noticed that yeah, I've written them, but until I've 
got to record them I haven't known exactly what 
I'm saying. 'Daddy's Little Girl' - 1 don't remember 
sitting down writing it- it's a total blank to me. 
I don't know where I was at, what page I was on - 
I come to record these things and I think, ' Who 
the hell is this person?'" 

Is that cos the emotions of 'Daddy's Little Girl' 
(can't and won't precis it, just hear it) are still 
'difficult' to deal with? 

"Not so much difficult as embarrassing. 
Embarrassing to be that open. I find myself caught. 
People are gonna hear such personal things about 
me and I instinctively don't want that. I hear the 
words back and I think - 1 can't actually share that 
with anyone apart from myself. But if I leave songs 
off the album I'm contradicting myself, going 
against everything I want to do here." 

What did you 'wanttodohere'? 

"The album comes from a time in my life where 
I had to grow up. I had to think about what I wanted 
to keep in my life and what I wanted to cast out. 

'I loved the way older people spoke 
in parables, riddles, stories' 

Only across. It's just her: there's precious few guest 
spots, bar Roots Manuva and Micachu. Unlike the 
open-mic fear of singular-vision that dilutes and 
derails so many hip-hop albums, Speech Therapy 
seems to come from a hermetic, focussed place. 

" Isolation is my main memory of recording. 
I was in Australia for six weeks. Very far away. Didn't 
know anyone. Only knew one person, Wayne Lotek, 
who I'd only met for two days previous to that time, 
when I made 'Searching'. I was staying with a family 
I didn't know. I'd get the train every day to the 
studio, pour my soul out and then return to this 
totally isolated existence. Sometimes I felt really 
lonely. But it worked out. I wanted the album to 
engulf you like a film score. I see the album as a 
movie soundtrack about my emotional life so far. " 

Were you a dictator in the studio? 

" No way. I was learning, learning the technical 
knowledge -finding out how to express my 
ideas in the right language musically. I see songs, 
yeah, but the only way I could communicate with 
musicians is words like 'happy', 'sad', 'skippy' - 
I had to learn to say major, minor, staccato. Wayne 
was the interpreter between me and the musicians, 
he'd take my vague instructions and nail them 
down. I can hear the songs before I even record 
them, the sound comes from the words. When 
I make music myself I tend to stack things up, 
ludicrously complex string arrangements, loads 
of layers. Wayne taught me about space, leaving 
gaps, and that's crucial to how the album works. " 

What music do you like? 

"Too many names. But I like it when music 
paralyses you. The first time I saw Tupac, I couldn't 
move. He wasn't the most complicated rapper 

And I found that the things that were really 
important were family, love, patience, pain. 
But I also found out the thin line between love 
and pain. How pain, going through it, can bring 
you to love, but also how quickly love brings you 
pain. The album starts with 'Searching' and ends 
with 'Speech Therapy' for a reason." 

What journey is being charted there? 

"These songs come from when I was 1 9 
through to last year. Growing up I had two very 
different experiences of lifestyle. My home life was 
idyllic. New uniform for school every term. Eating 
well. Holidays. Normality. When I got thrown out 
of my home, for reasons which if I'm honest were 
partly of my own making, I had nothing. And I mean 
nothing. When I wrote 'Searching' I hadn't eaten 
for two days. Those lines come directly from that 
hunger I was feeling at the time to find something: 
food, shelter, love, waiting on the JSA. For the first 
time in my life I really had to think about survival. 
I did things that I wasn't proud of, stole bread, 
stole food. That song's about being at the bottom, 
looking around yourself and saying 'Hell no, not 
me... I'm not staying here.'" 

Are you cleansed now, though? Do you have 
anything left to write about? 

"I'm signed forthree albums. This album 
releases me from purely writing about myself in 
the future. I can get into issues, other people's 
heads, start giving answers to the questions that 
Speech Therapy poses. Now I've told people where 
I'm coming from, now I can start telling people what 
I see. My therapy's done with. S'timeforittoget 
more social. Then with the third album I'm going to 
turn that kind of exploration on to the music, open 

the sound up as far as I can take it. More space, 
more suggestion. I love it when you listen to Meshell 
Ndegeocello keep a song going for 1 6 minutes and 
only have five lines of lyrics. That's the goal. " 

represent the youth, speak more truth 

I hope Speech gets the chance to grow and mature 
and let us hear it all happen. She'll only get that 
chance if the likes of you start buying her records. 
There's hints of this non-autobiographical future 
on Speech Therapy. A track like 'Bad Boy' isn't 
about Speech at all. Where are you in that song? 
You're not only dispersed through the mix, you're 
seemingly a fly on the wall. 

"I'm watching him. It's what I used to do. Look 
at the poster on his wall. Watch himshadowboxing, 
always shadowboxing. Watching him get his money 
together, sort his packages out. Taking such time 
and precision, taking all the stems and seeds out 
of theweed.Thatfocushehad-l realised how 
focused, concentrated and strong that energy 
he had was, how he'd work for way longer than 
simply dusk to dawn. And his intent, his ambition 
was always limitless - he worked damn hard for 
his money, he wanted the best serious weapons 
at his disposal, in the same way people yearn for the 
best education or the best position at a company. 

"This guy had serious energy, drive, all those 
things governments and grown-ups want young 
people to have - it was just all pointed towards 
something illegal because he'd never been praised 
for his energy, only found doors closing behind him 
or not letting him through. The media cliches about 
young people are all hiding the truth -that if these 
people are bent towards violence, or money, or are 
on the wrong path, they're put there by people's 
lack of care and compassion. " 

Do you still think hip-hop should be political? 

"Never mind the role of the artist being political 
- the role of a human being is to be political. 
Everything's politics: love, relationships, reality. 
Racism is mentioned on the record because there's 
way too many people thinking that 'things like that 
don't happen anymore'. London has conned itself 
that things like that don't happen anymore. The 
racism I grew up with has certainly become less 
obvious but people still cross the street to avoid 
you. There's perhaps a little less real fear than when 
I was younger. But intolerance is still there and it 
conditions your response. " 

Why do you think, nigh-on 40 years on, hip-hop 
is still getting it so hard in the neck for society's ills? 

"Hip hop is vilified because it's a youthful 
expression. People are scared of it. When I was 
young it was fisticuffs and that's about it. Now 
you've got kids whipping out knives and guns, 
you've got kids getting killed - but who's created 
this world? You have a whole load of commentators 
and professional experts who can't understand why 
kids might be violent. Speaking as someone who's 
had violence ingrained in me from an early age 
I don't even have to think about it: My response to 
a violent situation would be fast and over before 
you even knew it. That's what needs combating. 
Not the music people listen to. I want to be able to 
do this for the rest of my life. To do that, I need a hit. 
I need daytime radio play. I'm not gonna pretend 
I'm not selfish. I want some nice shit. Am I smart 
enough to step into that world and do what's 
required without losing myself? That's the 
question I'm asking myself right now." 

Definitely smart enough. Maybe the best we 
have. I don'ttell herthis. Ourtime is up. Carnaby 
still stinks. Only you can let Speech know how 
great she is, only you can prove this mic-to-mouth 
resuscitation is not depressingly too-good for 
it's times. Get Speech Therapy and get in on 
the birth yelp of one of British pop music's most 
intense, intelligent visionaries of this -or any 
other- decade. 

36 1 plan b 


Words. Louis Pattlson 

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a space in which to live 

Words: Andrzej Lukowski 

Born amid the rusting train yards and vacant buildings of Montreal, Constellation Records 
have fostered a ragtag clan of orphans and refuseniks # playing bleak but beautiful music with grace 
and integrity. From the fall-out projects of Godspeed You! Black Emperor to newcomers Clues, 
Elfin Saddle and Land Of Kush, the Constellation family remain idealists. This is their story 

"Yeah, we nixed Smells Like Anarcho-Syndicalist 
Records. And no, we are not astronomy or astrology 
buffs in the least. In the end I think we have imbued 
the name with meaning over the years. We were 
always interested in the idea that we'd be mapping 
nodes of activity and drawing lines between little 
creative flames being tended at various locations 
in our city. Perhaps later we dug the idea that this 
largely local map was now visible 'at a distance' - 
by a small following, physically remote from our 
location, deepened ourfeeling about the name." - 
Don Wilke and Ian llavsky, Constellation. 

A fact you already know, shoehorned into a 
lumbering analogy that you might not appreciate, 
is that actual constellations are formed from 
stars untold light-years apart from each other at 
completely different depths of field, which have 
simply been interpreted as though they form 
a galactic dot to dot of a crab/bull/pair of fish/ 
etcetera. And yet, said galactic dots undeniably 
have meaning. Maybe a meaning entirely ascribed 
by small fleshy things half a universe away, but 
meaning nonetheless. 

And I'm sitting here looking at three new albums 
from Montreal's Constellation, trying to scry out 
links, common ground, work out what it all says 
about this most laudable and daunting of modern 
record labels. So you know. It's an analogy that 
works for me. The albums are: 

One. The return of a man who co-fronted the 
last lo-fi pop band to have meant anything, who 
would probably be famous now if only he and his 
erstwhile colleagues hadn't had the decency to 
admit they wanted to kill each other. He is Alden 
Penner, his old band was The Unicorns, his new 
band is Clues, and they've made a self-titled album 
of lo-fi pop. Dark lo-fi pop. Stabbings in an alley at 
night lo-fi pop. But pop nonetheless. "Clues kind of 
decided itself into life," he says. "Bands are always 
in the process of integration and disintegration, 
composed and decomposed song; Clues is partly 
a rearrangement of some same components of 
Unicorns and all other bands. But then it's also other 
people. So it's totally different as well. We are using 
the same ingredients. And so that is why I give praise 
to song. We are informed by song." Quite so. 

Two. An avant-orchestra/free jazz ensemble 
whose leader has been a pillar of the arts in 
Montreal over the last decade or so. His/their 
new album is entitled Against The Day. It is a 
sweeping, mystical, desert-scented work inspired 
by Thomas Pynchon's2006 metahistorical novel of 
the same name. The title track is remarkable, My Life 
In The Bush Of Ghosts' more elementally Eastern 
moments whipped and spun into something 
unspeakably massive, sighing with end-of-days 
spirituality. His name is Sam Shalabi, and this project 
is being released underthe name Land Of Kush. 

Three. What you might call a folk record. Maybe. 
It comes from a duo of emigres from the west, and 
is a continuation of the sound and visual works they 

40 1 plan b 

created prior to forming a band. Their art is created 
with found and scavenged materials - living off 
the land, if you will - and shares some partial 
resemblance to gypsy and Eastern European 
folk, ie the music of the land. Their names are 
Emi and Jordan, they make music as Elfin Saddle, 
and Ringing For The Begin Again is their first album 
for Constellation. Says Jordan: "Our band from 
the outset has never been geared towards making 
anything other than what comes to us naturally, 
and what we believe in. I think that is apparent in 
the delivery of our music and that automatically puts 
us in a category close to that of Constellation. When 
we first started talking with them it was clear that 
we were seeing eye to eye. Our approach to art 
and music is very similar. We try to make the most of 
what's around us, and to re-use as much as possible. 
I like the idea of creating something of value from 
stuff that nobody wants. " 

join thee dots 1: constellation has politics 

Constellation's founding maxim was to "enact 
a mode of cultural production that critiques the 
worst tendencies of the music industry, artistic 
commodif ication, and perhaps in some tiny way, 
the world at large." 

Wilke and llavsky, answering collectively as CST: 
"Constellation is not a political label outside the 
sphere of music industry politics. What that means 
for us is that, as the label owners and directors, 
the politics that shape and govern label practices 
sometimes do involve our analysis and/or critique 
of trends or phenomena in the music industry 
that are not necessarily and strictly speaking 
about record company operations. " 

Eric Chenaux (Constellation recording artist): 
"I am not 'signed' to Constellation. The contract 
is tacit. Their continual interest, the machine of 
continuity. Ian and Don are my friends. That is 
inseparable -the politics of friendship." 

Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You ! Black Emperor, 
A Silver Mt Zion, partner-engineer Hotel2Tango): 
"My 'politics' were just a product of having had 
a very heavy adolescence/young adulthood; 
I had bad experiences with police, banks and 
landlords, I had bad experiences with the juvenile 
social-assistance program - 1 did way too many 
drugs, and learned a lot of things, and I got by, but 
am still even now trying to process some of what 
I saw back then. And so, in those early Godspeed/ 
Constellation years, when Montreal seemed to have 
an anarchist riot every few months, I knew which 
side I was on, and most of Godspeed - having had 
similar coming-of-agehorrorshows- did too." 

CST: "Back when we wrote these manifestos we 
were trying to provoke a conversation and summon 
up some sort of reaction 'from our own ranks', 
as it were, some sort of talk about the impossible 
promise of indie rock/punk rock. Instead, it was 
generally ignored or read as pure sanctimony. " 

Jordan McKenzie (Elfin Saddle): "We like to 
keep our music acoustic, mainly because that's the 

environment that we write our music in (at home), 
but also as an act of resistance. We don't want 
our music to be reliant on 'the grid'." 

Alden Penner: "Constellation was looking 
for information on the next little big thing in 
Montreal and figured we were holding onto some 
intelligence but not being forthright about it. After 
a few waterboarding sessions we had to confess 
untruthfully to possession of explosives. But now 
of course we love those commies and know that 
it was for our own good. " 

Unless you were involved in the Montreal music 
scene of the mid- to late-Nineties, Constellation's 
earliest incarnation probably presented itself to you 
all at once, foreboding, fully formed and I think -to 
a UK audience mired in an indie scene depleted by 
the Britpop fallout- almost totally unexpected. This 
was pre-Napster, and the odds of even a Western 
Canadian stumbling across any of Constellation's 
first year releases (300 seven-inches and 1 000 CDs 
for Sofa, 500 LPs for Godspeed, the label a part- 
time affair) were low -for a British audience, near 
enough impossible. 

But then that Godspeed album, F#A#oo t 
snowballed way beyond its initial run, a distribution 
deal was struck with the US arm of Southern 
Records, 1 998 yielded the scabrous, stately 
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada, a jaded British 
mainstream music press latched on, and suddenly 
Godspeed were on the front cover of NME. It was 
the crowning event in a completely unintentional 
assault on the public consciousness, wherein a pop- 
song shunning band and label of explicitly hard-left, 
anti-capitalist, anti-music industry leanings rose 
to prominence with freakish rapidity in the musical 
landscape of the late Nineties. (It's not a discourse 
I'd care to push too far, but one can't help but think 
of the speedy rises of radical parties in culturally 
and socio-economically exhausted countries.) 

Invariably the rest of Constellation's roster 
came under scrutiny, and because it involved other 
brooding instrumental rock bands (Sofa, Do Make 
Say Think, Fly Pan Am), Constellation very quickly 
became known as "anti-corporate, anti-capitalist, 
and anti-globalist. . . Montreal, Quebec independent 
record label known for its contributions to post- 
rock" (to quote Wikipedia). 

Land Of Kush you can perhaps see in that 
tradition. Elfin Saddles maybe a little. Clues not 
at all. Hypothesis: Constellation has changed. 

join thee dots 2: constellation is 
a montreal label 

Constellation: "We, along with many of the early 
musicians on the label, moved to Montreal from 
other parts of Canada in the late Eighties and 
early Nineties. Whatever our relative fluency in 
the French language, culturally we were a minority, 
and decidedly marginal. That breeds its own sense 
of self-reliance, humility and cultural anxiety." 

Efrim Menuck: "For the most part we only got 
jazzed about stuff that was happening in Montreal 

Photo: Ian llavsky 

'We were trying to summon up some sort of reaction 
'from our own ranks' as it were, some talk about the 
impossible promise of indie rock' -cst 

plan b 1 41 



Photo: Yannick Grandmont 

'Choosing Constellation was one of 
the most natural things in the world' 

-Carla Bozulich 

infiltrate or even to possess an awareness that when 
I finally did move there it was with such a purpose. 
Which is to say, I came to Montreal as a sleeper cell. " 

"Ian and Don are continuers more than 
growers," comments Eric Chenaux, and I think 
after talking to those involved I agree. Maybe 
I thought I'd come up with some story about how 
Constellation has mellowed and I'd talk about 
how we can see that reflected in the new releases, 
and how recent 'signings' (no contracts, remember) 
go way beyond local and instrumental, taking in 
Tindersticks, Seattle's The Dead Science, and - most 
strikingly -veteran US artists Vic Chesnutt and Carla 
Bozulich. Certainly you could draw inference that 
the early roster was entwined with Constellation's 
refutation of everything the music industry as 
capitalist entity held dear, and that by allowing the 
odd band that makes use of choruses and hooks 
in they'd turned away from that, somehow. 

CST: "Constellation really did not set out to (and 
did not) foster an instrumental roster. For reasons 
best left to more acute cultural theorists, Quebec 
has had a long love affair with 'progressive' music 
(Pink Floyd, Soft Machine) so there was strangely 
fertile ground for long-form bands like Godspeed 
and Fly Pan Am. As the label drew from musicians 
on both sides of the linguistic/cultural fence - 
Godspeed, Exhaust and Fly Pan Am all counted 
native Montrealers and Francophones among their 
ranks -and insofar as these bands were also making 
wordless music, there was a cultural bridge nascent 
in the stuff we were supporting and disseminating." 

Neither is adherence to any sort of political creed 
or value overtly important -nobody I interviewed 
for this piece bar Constellation characterises 
themselves as overtly political, and it has never 
exactly been home to agit bands, save perhaps 
Black Ox Orkestar (who sing in Yiddish). 

CST: "It is absolutely not important to make an 
ideological connection. The only thing that matters 
is mutual respect, from the outset. Trust is the basis 
for the connection : ethics, not politics or ideology. " 

Yet it would be silly to say there is no such thing 
as a Constellation band when so many things are 
shared. Montreal. The politics of independence. 
And a recording studio. 

join thee dots 3: hotel2tango 

Hotel2Tango is a recording studio located in the 
same building as Constellation. It began life in 
1 995 as a performance and living space two blocks 
away, varyingly dwelt in by members of Godspeed, 
becoming a 'proper' studio in 2000 (though F#A#™ 

(Exhaust, Fly Pan Am, Bliss, The Shalabi Effect). 
We felt an attachment to the neighbourhood we 
lived in 'cause it made the most incredible noises 
at night. We obsessed over the unspeakable beauty 
of those empty trainyards, as well as the snow- 
buried, expansive Montreal alleyways that we found 
ourselves wandering through late at night, and tried 
to make a noise out of tape-loops and two-finger 
chords, bowstrokes and duelling press-rolls that 
approximated the dumb luminous weightthat 
we were lugging around in our heads." 

CST: "Also, thanks to Quebec nationalism, 
there was a huge exodus of English wealth and 
population from Montreal in particular. Throughout 
the Eighties and Nineties, the economy here was 
anaemic and sluggish, and there were tons of empty 
buildings. But a relatively healthy social welfare 
state existed, so the situation was not extreme, 
just piles of cheap apartments and warehouse 
spaces in perfectly calm and centrally-located 
neighbourhoods. An artist paradise, really." 

Alden Penner: "I was given instructions in the 
late Nineties or early 2000s to go to Montreal from 
BC and join this mysterious collective known as 
Godspeed and usurp the throne. I was too young 
then to know what they were or how I was to 

42 | plan b 


and long-standing relationship with the studio - 
without doing the math, roughly 75 per cent 
of the records we've released have been recorded at 
the Hotel. While we sometimes help Constellation 
bands get access to what is a very busy studio, we 
mostly leave it to them to figure out who they want 
to work with. What they might ask for in terms of 
'sound' is not really anything we're privy to. " 

Menuck: " For three years we had shows there. 
Because the Hotel2Tango was an illegal space, those 
early shows were only advertised via Xeroxed flyers 
and word-of-mouth, and were almost always 
packed, orphans playing to orphans joyously." 

So that's some dots. Let's try to draw a picture. 

What unites Constellation's past, present and 
inbetween is that for a non-niche label, it has always 
harboured a large number- possibly unparalleled 
number - of acts whose complete and utter failure 
in conventional music industry terms is almost 
totally assured from birth, and has created an 
environment where that can work for them. 

For all the politics floating around, I don't think it 
has ever really been about anything more than trying 
to do the right thing by artists who would - or already 
have - received short shrift after other labels and 
deserve better. It is a support system, nurturing the 
unnurturable, and because artists are never signed, 
the roster is inherently given to transition; because 
artists are never scouted, then personal connections 
tend to lead to an artist releasing on the label. Hence 
artists tend to be from Montreal or know somebody 
from Montreal - Chesnutt and Bozulich already had 
some links, and both came to record albums at H2T 
before deciding to release them via the label. 

was recorded there previously), moving to its 
present whereabouts in 2006. It has no official 
affiliation with Constellation, but the overwhelming 
majority of its recordings have been made there, 
often with Ef rim Menuck engineering, as was the 
case with the three latest records. 

Efrim Menuck: "Godspeed had broken up again 
(we broke up a lot back then), and I had moved into 
the Hotel2Tango with [artist John Arthur] Tinholt, 
and his psychotic, passive-aggressive paleface Sufi 
'furniture maker' friend (this was a very low time for 
me). I was busting ass, hauling American students' 
furniture around to make the rent on this enormous 
toxic loft. We had these carbon monoxide detectors 
that'd go off all day. At first we'd unplug them and 
go for walks whenever they started shrieking; but 
gradually we just left them unplugged and had 
strange, profoundly deep dreams. " 

CST: "We became friends with Efrim just 
as Constellation was starting. He and a few 
others were starting to host live shows at the 
old Hotel2Tango space, and Godspeed was 
shapeshifting into the large band it would become. 
He and Thierry Amar from Godspeed began setting 
up a recording studio at the old H2T in 1 999 and 
by 2001 it was pretty full on, with a proper control 
room and tracking room." 

Menuck: "We had stripped down from a 
fourteen-piece band to a nine-piece, and we were 
lugging this ninety-minute chunk of music around; 
we decided we were going to record this thing at 
Thee Hotel2Tango, and we'd put it out ourselves 
as a quadruple seven-inch. This was winter, and 
the landlords had turned the heat off. We rented 
microphones and a recording console and a 1 6- 
track reel-to-reel, lugged all this shit upstairs and set 
about trying to move all this cold air around like we 
knew what were doing. Somewhere in the middle 
of all that, Constellation told us they wanted to put 
it out. We called it F#A#o° 'cause that was the open- 
tuning of the guitars (tuning the guitars like that 
sounded like faraway trains to us. . .)" 

CST: "Just to be clear: H2T is a completely 
separate entity. Constellation obviously has a close 

'Trust is the basis for the connection: 
ethics, not politics or ideology' -cst 

plan b 1 43 

'I like the idea of creating something 
of value from stuff that nobody 

Wants' -Jordan, Elfin Saddle 

and they do. Clues may even end up comparatively 
popular (they have singalong bits that go 
"babababa" and everything), but Constellation 
are genuine fans and that's that. This remarkable 
group of individuals has maintained continuity via 
ideology, and that is inspiring. Roll end credits. Yay. 

Except. Except of course there isn't going to be 
a happy ending, and for all the phenomenal effort, 
the dedication to building up a sinuous distribution 
network and a reputation for beautiful physical 
product, there have been compromises. They just 
don't happen to have anything to do with artists. 

"Our entire catalogue has been made widely 
available as commercial MP3s," they state, simply. 
"We have hired professional, outside publicists 
in the USA for certain releases. We once discounted 
our entire back catalogue for sale pricing at Fopp 
in the UK. We have received label-specific subsidies 
from the Canadian government. These are all things 
we said, at one point or another, that we would not 
do. We have nothing to say in our defence, other 
than that the music industry has indeed gotten 
worse and worse and just about everyone, in 
different ways, from major labels on down to 'indie 
artists', have conspired directly or indirectly to make 
music fans feel and believe that they have little 
reason to actually pay for recorded music." 

You can't help but feel that sooner or later, the 
writing is on the wall. Certainly with Constellation's 
refusal to make money from anything other than 
direct record sales, it would seem the label is pretty 
much determined to go down with the ship - one 
last beautifully put together album will turn up 
one day and then that'll be it. Over. No merch 
or tour profits or licensing (which happens with 
Constellation bands, but the label takes no share) 
keeping it afloat, no cuts from H2T, no 360s. And 
yet. . .and yet. . .I'm looking at those three records, 
joining the dots, and I can't thinkabout that. 
Fuck reality. Constellation has been fucking with 
it since Godspeed ripped into the fabric of the late 
Nineties and then hared out again before becoming 
anything so awful as a revered institution. Three 
gorgeously packaged works, recorded in the same 
studio, with the same producer, that couldn't be 
more diverse had you gone for a blind rummage 
about Peel Acres. Two quite clearly never going 
to shift more than a handful of units. What unites 
these records? That they exist without compromise; 
that so many small things unite them and that they 
sound so different. That they exist. 

"We remain idealists and intend to still be here 
when the world swings back around." 

"As for choosing the label, it was absolutely one of the most natural things 
in the world," saysBozulich. "I knew Don and Ian and had been aware of the 
bitchenness of the label, their art, artists, etc since their first release - a great 
band called Sofa from about 1 996. My dear friend Jessica Moss from A Silver 
Mount Zion and Black Ox Orkestar played with [Bozulich's former band] the 
Geraldine Fibbers for a short time. Anyway, when Evangelista got recorded, 
I wasn't even looking to record it. I just played some skeletal versions of some of 
the songs in Montreal on tour. Jessica and Thiery sat in on the gig and afterwards 
Jessica explained to me what should happen... recording up there with Efrim, 
talking to Don and Ian, playing with everyone. You have to know Jessica to get 
what I mean. She sees the core in things, clicks some magic and shit gets done. " 

Constellation negates the 'realities' of the music industry for its artists insofar 
as it can, and it's no wonder that talents like Chesnutt who've spent two 
decades flitting between labels while being patronised with phrases like 'cult 
songwriter' have found it a relief. It hires no lawyers, makes no contracts, has 
an affiliation with a studio and group of producers and engineers but makes no 
effort to force it on artists, continues to craft beautiful packaging for all CDs and 
LPs, and their artists always get paid: "We've accounted for every penny of every 
project and even on records that only sell a couple thousand copies, royalties are 
paid to the artist, strictly from record sales alone. We've devoted the bulk of our 
production budgets to artwork and packaging and still print with the same tiny 
silkscreen, foil-stamp and offset shops that we first sought out in 1997." 

Which is all just as it should be, and today may not be unique for a label of 
this size. So the real truth about Constellation in 2009 is that insofar as anybody 
there is concerned, those three new records are shoo-ins. Sonic aesthetic has 
never really been an issue so long as Don and Ian like the music and the people, 

44 1 plan b 

Photo: Efrim Menuck 

^ ><^ 




m - 


^ ■ 

■ * * 

' A kick in th 
d ^n d Vy o e , n ^-lt 
%yio n . yOL,ri ^e diate 

U9a ' 7 "w 

4 The Vine, Sowerby Bridge 

5 The Doghouse at The Royal Oak, Halifax 

6 TBA, Liverpool 

7 Seven, Sunderland 

9 Whistlebinkies, Edinburgh 

10 Feature at Monty's, Dunfermline 

1 1 The Greenside, Leslie 

12 Cosmopol, Glasgow 

1 3 Fudge at The Moorings, Aberdeen 

14 Bulge at Cape, Stirling 

15 Fuel, Manchester 

16 TBA, London 

1 7 Club. The. Mammoth at The Mac Beth, London 

1 9 Tuff en Up! at The Old Makings, Bury 

21 Southend Fringe Festival at Saks, Southend 

22 Steamboat Tavern, Ipswich 

23 B2, Norwich, with The Barlights 

24 Bitterscene, Chelmsford (100th Party Show) 

1 Jul Hot City Sounds at The Brickmakers, Norwich 
further details 



www a r>,< 


, my s pace, com/n ro n erecords 

their style is legendary 

Words: Ringo P Stacey 

From B-boys breaking at the dawn of the Eighties to a modern generation of rap classicists 
and hardcore, politicised MCs # Nottingham has a history of home-growing some of the 
strongest hip-hop our island has to offer 

With apologies to those there at the beginning, 
Nlstartwherelcamein. Listening to the radio, 
March 2004. Just over a year since a million had 
marched in London under the banner 'No War 
On Iraq' and exactly a year since the government 
ignored them and went to war anyway. Ideas usually 
the preserve of radicals become generally held 
opinion: all politicians act in their own best interests, 
not ours; they lie frequently, systematically hiding 
the true power structures of society. 

But not on the radio. Not outside the news. 
Music carried on regardless, as if the will to protest 
had gone. As if art was totally divorced from 
everyday life. Or at least until March. I heard it on 
the recently launched 1Xtra, I hear tell it was played 
in the evenings on Radio 1, but this was definitely 
drivetime, mainstream. An unmistakeably young 
Notts accent, not particularly agile, not even that 
poetic, but intense. Telling his truth while a tinny 
siren blared ominous and relentless through the 
breakbeat stew of Bomb Squad proportions: 
"You sold weapons to Iraq, Great Britain/Sold your 
soul to America, the devil, Great Britain". Saying 
what hip-hop needed so badly to say. "Control the 
world in this new world order? /Could have spent 
the war money on homes, food, and water". 

The voice belonged to Scorzayzee, 23-year 
old Dean Palinczukfrom St Ann's, the Nottingham 
estate where Shane Meadows was to film This 
Is England. Part of the fluid and expanding Out Da 
Ville crew whose numbers also included at some 
point Lee Ramsay, C-Mone, Tempa, and current 
1Xtra DJ Mistajam, back when he was DJ Jam. 
Clearly disinterested in stardom, by the time the 
track, 'Great Britain', was broadcast, Scorzayzee 
had been retired for nine months after converting 
(or "reverting", he insisted) to Islam. It was a 
decision he held to even as record companies 
sniffed a hit and The Sunday Telegraph reported 
the record's claims the Royal Family "killed Lady Di" 
were "considered by some in the music industry 
to be more offensive than 'God Save The Queen' 
by the Sex Pistols". 

Even with him out the picture, looking back 
over the previous few years and keeping one eye 
on it over the next five, it was obvious there was 
something going on in Nottingham. Something 
beyond protest, some kind of hardcore. Not 
intrinsically offensive, just above giving a fuck 
what you think. Evidence could be found across 
the spectrum of class, race, pedigree and genre, 
from Bronx school hip-hop purists the P Brothers to 
double-time grime MC Wariko, from recent juvenile 
delinquent Shifty Spirit through overgrown console 
kids The Elementz way back to matured veterans 

It was Cappo and the P Brothers who were next 
to hook my brain. I knew their reputation. P Brothers 
Paul S and DJ Ivory were widely lauded for their 
label Heavy Bronx and series of five EPs, 'The Heavy 
Bronx Experience' - named for their theory that 
Nottingham is to the UK what the Bronx is to NYC. 

'Great Britain' started as one of their beats, but for 
all its quality, was modest by their standards -that 
relentless siren a mere echo of the disorientating 
maelstrom of noise on their own releases and 
Cappo's enigmatic, confrontational debut album 
from 2003, Spaz The World. 

Not that it was too busy. Their brilliance was 
in bringing a dazzling clarity to the essentials, 
a keen earforthe sharpest of analogue drum 
breaks. . .a knack for extracting only the essential 
seconds, condensing them to gold. Half a second 
of scream or grunt undermining complacency, 
scratches blunt as a sledgehammer deployed as 
in battle aimed straight at your rib cage. P Brothers 
were scholars for sure, not of a fossilised culture 
but of their own experience. 

In his own field, Cappo was very much of the 
same school, reference points updated to account 
for his relative youth. An MC spitting confident 
beyond his years, like GZA and Kool Keith's English 
cousin after half an ounce of loose-leaf tea, he 
wasn't a god, he "was deified high as the tide 
that slowly covers earth" . He's not the dopest, he's 
someone who's "appearing in your retinas as better 
than most". Even without the explicit targets of 
Scorsayzee, Cappo spoke with a fiercely guarded 

"Back then it was your funk, soul, and jazz," 
he tells me. "We used to call itfusion. The big bands 
used to do real strong grooves, and we used to do 
footwork challenges. That was the first recollection 
of what we called hip-hop dancing. I'm talking '79. 
There was a real, real vibrant scene through '84, 
'85/86, 1 used to tour all over Europe breaking 
with the Assassinators, battle dancing. " 

Speak to anyone with a deep involvement on 
the Notts hip-hop scene and they'll go hazy, lost 
for words at this point. Their eyes will light, whether 
recalling from memory or legend. They'll talk about 
the various breaking crews, illicit cassette dubs from 
Rock City DJ Masterscratch and rare imported 
copies of Afrika Islam's Zulu Beat radio show traded, 
even then, like relics. Some of the older generation 
are apologetic. "I don't wantto sound like an old 
man," starts Joe, "But I tell all these kids, 'It was 
better in my day'. Everyone used to get on together, 
when we was doing coach trips to different towns, 
we'd get two, three coaches of hip-hop kids." 

The recorded history starts in 1 989 with two 
vinyls, both released by out of town labels. The 
second, DJ Mink's 'Hey! Hey! Can U Relate', was 
the bigger hit. It arrived courtesy of Sheffield techno 
label Warp, but it featured former Nottingham 

'Stop looking at London hoping 
someone grabs us. We can do it from 
our little cottage industry' -joeBuhdha 

independence that was implicitly political. In this 
light 'Great Britain' was almost incidental to the 
story, an inevitable by-product of a time when 
the mood darkened on a scene already in flight, 
wings supported by an army of talent. Not just folks 
with shit to say but producers to make the signal 
come clear. 

change my style and chill 

It's my first time in Notts, and I'm met at the station 
by Andy and Li of The Elementz. I ask who they think 
are the godfathers of the Nottingham scene, and 
the reply comes quick - two names. Later that day 
I'm relating their answer to Richard Douglas, back 
in the day known as Mach One, now known as 
JoeBuhdha. I start, "They said BigTrev...", he 
completes the sentence when I pause, " . . .and 
myself." He's right. Is that fair? 

" Definitely fair, " he confirms, without a second's 
hesitation. Working back through records can only 
get you so far. To understand where Nottingham's 
coming from you need to go to the source. It's not 
just him who'll tell me - everyone, at some point will 
mention Nottingham Rock City. Joe Buhdha was in 
early, but Trevor Rose was there the earliest. Before 
it was even hip-hop, BigTrev was dancing. 

breakers The KID and Caruthers, and was a source 
of local pride. Ivory of the P Brothers witnessed its 
impact: "On the local pirate station Heatwave you 
didn't really hear any local hip-hop. That used to get 
rinsed. It was commonly known that was bad. Really 
fucking bad. It reps Nottingham well." 

Proceeding it by only a few months, 'Peace 
Love And Unity' by MC's Logik was lesser musically 
but equally pivotal. A Madchester-style cornball 
house remix released by house DJ Graeme Park's 
Submission label, it featured the recorded debut 
of Joe Buhdha in his guise as rapper Mach One. 
The crew came together as the original breaking 
scene died down. "Joe was little brother to one 
of my mates," explains Trev. "I used to see him and 
his mates in his bedroom playing tapes and I used 
to just laugh. To us hip-hop was something you 
lived, you went out and did it. Then they began 
to do little hip-hop jams at the youth club. And 
I realised what the scene had changed into. " 

These days Joe is blunt about it. "The music 
was cack to be honest. But we liked the gigs, and 
we liked what came with it. Partying, girls. . .the 
equivalent of what Wiley's doing now." But crucial 
lessons were learned, learned well, and passed 
on down to the generations as their inheritance. 

plan b 1 47 

nottingham hip-hop 

[. \ 



Trev is equally blunt in his own way. "It was straight 
record label business. It was a joke, the producer 
never even went to the studio, the original files 
were taken in and remade. " 

make my getaway smarter than doogie 

But just when it seems like everything's dying, 
the faithful regroup and smash your expectations. 
MC's Logik dissolved as once again fashion 
switched and hip-hop nights got rare. Joe Buhdha 
quit rapping and set about making the records 
he wanted to hear. With £45,000 of social funding 
to set up Community Recording Studios in a 
deprived part of town, he enlisted the help of 
Trev and his brother Courtney, and the St Ann's 
studio was born. 

Their first product landed in 1 993 - 'Radford You 
Get Me', by Joe's friend, Mr 45. It was a huge local 
hit. Over a grimey soul beat, like 'Deep Cover' with 
the bass ghosted down to a nagging hum, 45 takes 
us through a day in the life of a broke weed smoker 
fiending for some blow. 

"He's telling a story about a day in his life," 
says Joe. "He was hustling, he robbed this girl. 
And it's all true. He came to my house and then 
she came about 1 minutes later and I'm like 
'oh, shit'. Cos we both were mates. But when 
she heard the track she was like, 'Oh my God, 
I'm immortalised in a record'. She was so glad. 

"We knew what level we'd set," he continues. 
"That record did good things for the city in terms 
of self-esteem. Stop looking at London hoping 
someone grabs us, we can do it from our little 
cottage industry." 

48 1 plan b 

Shortly after, Joe would leave Community 
Recording Studios, but it remained a breeding 
ground for the budding scene. In 1 994, a 1 2-year- 
old Lee Ramsay kicked off the Out Da Ville era by 
barging his way into the booth and battling Mr 45 
for an hour. Within two years he had his first single 
out. On his second single in 1 997, tucked away at 
the end was a verse from his best mate Scorzayzee. 

Trev had been reluctant to let him record. 
" I wouldn't put him on a record cos I used to think 
hewaswack. He used to have off -timing." But in 
some ways he fitted in. As Trev says now, looking 
back on the Out Da Ville family, "It was all misfits. 
When I found Lee, kids were bullying him at the 
youth club. Their singer, Cheryl Power, was a 1 3- 
year-old girl. We were just odds and ends" . 

standing in pitch black like I was the 

A lot of things have changed in the five years since 
'Great Britain', but the spirit remains. P Brothers 
started working more with MCs from New York, 
letting the soul flow through another immaculate 
album, The Gas. Cappo and Styly Cee released 
a ferocious EP The H Bomb'. Joe Buhdha's 
working with Wariko, who's got a £1 0,000 
career development grant from the BBC. Even 
Scorzayzee's back. He's been acting, with a part 
in Shane Meadows forthcoming Le Donk, but 
recording too, building up a stockpile of tracks 
for his debut solo release. A new track on his 
MySpace suggests he's still raps with unusual 
intensity, skipping from how he was diagnosed 
with schizophrenia to how he thinks "the universe 
is chaos, but life's an exception". 

In a sense the odds and ends are making good. 
Maturing but refusing to give up their childhood 
loves: misfits. But in some lights everyone beyond 
the M25 is a misfit. And maybe that's why 
Nottingham slays -they're just used to trying harder. 
Nothing to do with them, everything to do with the 
way they're often not even considered by a media 
focussedon London. So the story of hip-hop in 
Nottingham is how the dedicated dealt with that. 

I speak to former Out Da Ville DJ Mistajam, 
now firmly established at BBC's 1XTRA. "Ultimately 
the industry's always been in London," he reasons. 
"The Beatles travelled from Liverpool to London. 
I don't see why Nottingham should be exempt. 
You don't need to live there but you do need to 
be willing to take your product there. That's what 
Joe did, that's what Trev did. That's what the new 
generation, Wariko and the LRG guys are doing, 
they're not afraid to jump on the Midland Mainline, 
pay the £9 return." 

ain't nothing but coal inside my hand 

One of the more controversial figures to rise out 
of the Nottingham scene to national prominence 
was Pitman - a rapping coal-miner who sent up 
hip-hop and northern identity with records like 
'When Miners Attack'. Pitman was the creation 
of Styly Cee, who started out as a DJ on pirate 
station Heatwave FM in the early Nineties, and 
made his mark as in-house producer for Son 
Records, releasing a series of records, first with 
MC Frisco in Lost Island and then solo. The success 
of Pitman drew him some flak from his peers, 
who questioned why he would reduce hip-hop 
to a series of comedy routines - a performance that 

nottingham hip-hop 

^r' : 




Scholars, not of a fossilised culture 
but of their own experience 

notts property 


Lost Island slip out the first independently released 
Nottingham hip-hop LP, Forbidden Ground, and 
promptly split up. Out Da Ville score MTV playtime 
with a video for their second release, 'Blood Sweat 
And Tea rz'. 


Styly Cee's first solo EP 'Crusoe' has him kicking 
a verse worthy of Pitman on 'Filter OutThe Weak', 
boasting how he's "Got the Son executives eating 
digestives/Tea in their hand, making more rap 
classics". He also callsTrevor Nelson a "cheesy 

stings them all the more given the commonly 
held view that Pitman is the most successful, or 
at least the most visible, export of the scene so far. 
But he defends his integrity. " I can do what I want, 
no-one can question my passion for it. Who says 
you can't have fun within the hip-hop parameters? 
That's bullshit." 

Styly thinks his detractors have trouble taking 
a joke. " Pitman started off as a piss-around thing, 
really, 'cos I didn't like jungle MCs. Then it changed. 
I thought about the miner, this angry bloke which 
were me basically, sat in my room one Sunday 
afternoon taking the piss out of. . .everything. " 

And however popular Pitman got, Styly's kept 
him independent with the London-based Son 
Records. It's the mark of a man suspicious of the 
music industry, wary of what they'd ask of him. 
Someone who'd rather work with his mates. 
"It's very difficult to sustain a career making 
music unless you go full-blown commercial," 
he says. "You'd be just like a puppet or a robot, 
there's no point." 

Much as he likes to portray himself a bitter 
old man, half a stride away from Pitman, it's 
actually Styly in the end that offers the most 
romantic description of Nottingham's hip-hop 
life. A spark, perhaps no different in essence 
from dozens of scenes round the country, but 
burning surer and brighter through the decades. 
"Sometime, probably in the late Seventies, 
someone in New York sent a hip-hop ghost to the 
Nottingham area. It moves around different people, 
so when it's in me I'm doing my stuff. Then it'll go 
somewhere else and Joe Buhdha will probably have 
a go, he'll get some beats done. People say 'Is it 

something in the water?' It's not. It's the ghost. 
That's why the producers keep this 'Eye Of 
The Tiger' mentality." 

Then he adds the killer boast, the boldest 
possible claim. He's talking about the recent 
P Brothers album, and he says "Now Nottingham's 
doing better hip-hop than New York". Ivory of 
the P Brothers puts it his own way: " Here we realise 
there is no hip-hop scene in this country. In London 
because there is this carrot there of 'Maybe we 
could make a living out of this' they have to create 
this matrix scene that isn't there. In Notts, your 
aspirations are a lot lower, cos we're just doing it 
to smash it. To be the best. " 

Thanks to Alastair at Son Records and Disorda 
atsuspectpackages. com 


'Phone Pitman 2' is the first single by Styly Cee's coal- 
mining alter-ego, Pitman. Key line: You think Jay-Z's 
blowing up ? He's blowing something. " Out Da Vi I le 
disintegrate after their final EP, 'Notts Property'. 


Cappo releases Spaz The World on Brighton label 
Zebra Traffic. TheGetOutVolume /, follows a few 
weeks later independently, the first of two albums 
with the appropriately psychedelic beats of Zero 
Theory. Scorsayzee retires. 


P Brothers compile the best of their 'Heavy Bronx 
Experience' series into Live Hardcore Worldwide Pt2, 
and follow up with The Zulu Beat, a tightly wound old- 
school breaks mix paying tribute to Afrika Islam's 
Eighties radio show. 


NG Cartel member Wariko releases the lAin'tLyin' 
mixtape.The track 'Mummy Didn't Work' sees him 
describe hiding under his bed as a child, staring his 
family dog in the eye as the police raided the house 
to arrest his drug-dealing mother. 


Joe Buhdha's produces a masterpiece for Klashnekoff, 
Lion heart: Tussle With The Beast.\Nariko leaves NG 
Cartel and forms the Lyrics Rhymes And Grime 
collective (LRG). 


Nottingham is peaking again. P Brothers come back 
hard with The Gas. The Elementz release their debut 
full length Crushmode. Cappo and Styly Cee drop an 
inhumanly heavy EP 'The H Bomb'. 

plan b 1 49 

t . 

The notion of the truth in 
a live show is somewhat 
called into question t 


• J t « 

* 4 


^ -• 

> W 

voyage to europa 

Words: Andrzej Lukowski 


The Coronet, London 

With due apologies to George Berkeley, riddle 
me this: if a Brechtian deconstruction of live 
music as artform happens in a club where the 
audience is basically too mashed to really 
notice what's going on, is there any point? 

I ask this with some presumption, given 
I was mostly sober for Fischerspooner's first 
UK gig in three years, but watching the 
crowd frantically writhe and gurn to the 
music formerly known as electroclash, it 
would seem the more artful flourishes are 
a bit, y'know, lost. 

It's an issue of confrontation, really. Back 
in the early part of this century, some seemed 
to expect Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner 
to, um... what exactly? Lead some sort of 
cultural revolution? Bring balance to the 
force by topping the global charts with 
'Emerge'? Odd times. ..but anyway, back then, 
Fischerspooner's nakedly artificial, wantonly 
'inauthentic' shows were kinda punk rock, 

insofar as audiences were genuinely 
unprepared for the sight of a gay New Yorker 
badly lip-syncing his way through an exciting 
set of wigs. The momentarily intrigued press 
declared a severe case of Emperor's New 
Clothes-itis, which, um, well, was fine except 
for the bit where nobody seemed to realise 
that was the entire point. But then maybe 
having a backlash was the pointtoo? Hmm. 

Anyway, the point here is that a live 
show that once created friction - or at least 
food for thought -feels neutered in an 
environment where the crowd is so drowned 
under (pre-recorded) music that onstage 
events are really just an elaborate garnish. 
Then again, Fischerspooner's window to 
preach to anybody but the converted perhaps 
shut a while ago, and everybody around me 
seems to be having a jolly nice time, so maybe 
I shouldn't askfor more. 

There is much to enjoy. The otherwise 
deadpan Warren frequently shuffles over 
to join the dance line mid-song, abandoning 
any pretence of actually needing to man his 
keyboards -it's funny every time. For Casey's 
routine around 'Emerge' he pretends to 

be so bored of the hit single that he proceeds 
to dance (timing immaculate) without even 
bothering to mime, a sullen expression on 
his face. By contrast, a pre-recorded Casey 
plus dancers are shown on a big screen above, 
sweaty and dressed down, working through 
the same moves in a grungy New York 
rehearsal studio. To state the obvious, 
the recorded footage does look more 
'real' than the events transpiring on stage, 
and the notion of the truth in a live show 
is somewhat called into question. It's just 
that calling into question the integrity of 
what is basically a club PA is surely more 
shtickthan statement. 

I dunno. I'm uncomfortably conscious 
ofthe fact this sounds rather negative, 
when it is all pretty fun (I haven't talked about 
the music much - but play Entertainment, 
the new album on a really nice soundsystem 
and, er, welcome to the show). I always 
thought Fischerspooner were provocateurs, 
but maybe that was just my assumption. 
Ergo Fischerspooner have confounded 
my assumption. Ergo Fischerspooner 
have won. 

Edie Sedgewick 

The Fenton, Leeds 

There are few things more irritating than 
seeing a headline act sat sulkily outside 
a gig room, flicking through a book and 
ignoring a slew of rousing bands warming 
up hearts, minds and air particles for 
their ultimate benefit. More importantly, 
though, there are few things more 
deserving of my entrance fee than a gig 
which neatly doubles as a comedy show. 
When the tears are streaming down my 
face, I consider it money well spent. Fuck, 
it's grim out there, you know? 

So, in between some amusing cross- 
Atlantic banter reqardinq the use of 

brackets vs parentheses (oh, and never use 
the word 'maths' in front of an American), 
Justin Moyer (formerly of El Guapo and 
Supersystem) brings the party. Glammed 
up in silver dress, some gnarly tights and 
a cute blond wig, his pop culture analysis 
is buoyed by some supremely cosmic 
synth work, a neatly clipped drummer, 
mild-mannered bass player plus elegantly- 
gloved backing singer. The highlight is 
'Angelina Jolie' and its chorus: "I wanna 
babyl/A black baby! "Yes. Ridiculous. 
But so is she, right? Music you can laugh 
to. Comedy you can dance to. Money 
well spent. 

Flower/Corsano Du 


Arrington de Diony 


Bardens Boudoir, Londo 


It's promoters Upset the Rhythm's 
200th birthday (well, 200th gig, anyway) 
tonight, and who better to embody the 
spirit of improv skronk than Arrington 
de Dionyso? 

Leaving his red PVC hotpants at 
home with his band Old Time Relijun, 
his solo mood is focussed and his singular 
form besuited. Requesting attention 
politely, carrying on regardless, he honks 
his reeds steamship-like in a sweat-fog, 
battling the chatterers. His foil-wrapped 
sax and avant jaws-harp thrum ride 

of faux-naif nudes scatter into Old 
Testament spaces. He swerves and 
skronks like a swan on the verge of 
a nervous takedown. 

Next, Chris Corsano and Vibracathedral 
Orchestra's Mick Flower tool up with fluid 
drumming and bright shards of unprepared 
guitar, following the path to who knows 
where. The duo's concentrated movement 
is deceptively effortless as they steer 
a gonzo rush of trill and fill, built for its 
own sake but played out for the crowd 
in a switchback downpour of ecstatic 
rhythm and spasming noise. 
Richard Fontenoy 

50 1 plan b 

life behind 

Words: Stewart Smith and Matt Evans 

DeSalvo Photo: Brian Sweeney 

Hinterland Festival 

Nice'n'Sleazy's, Glasgow 

Where's Dr Who when you need him? You'd 
need the Tardis to catch even a quarter of the 
hundred-odd acts at one-ticket/all venues 
shindig Hinterland. Decisions must be made. 

And so, I finally get around to seeing The 
Fall and I kinda wish I hadn't. Recovering from 
a broken hip, Mark E Smith spends much of 
the set seated, amusing himself by turning his 
unfortunate guitarist's amp on and off. 
Occasionally he'll tinker with wife Elena 
Poulou's Korg, which at least produces some 
intriguing squiggles. The band crank out the 
riffs like diligent shiftworkers, but there's little 
in the way of dynamics or space. With the 
cadaverous Zomb E lurching around the stage 
like an extra who ended upon George A 
Romero's cutting room floor, this feels like 
some perverse masterclass in anti-spectacle. 

And to think I could have been bopping 
around to Micachu or tucking into the soul 

food laid on by Glasgow collective Lucky Me. 
Happily, we don't miss the party altogether. 
Lucky Me golden boy Rustie has pulled out, 
but the tunes played by fellow members The 
Blessings, Dema and Eclair Fifi, are a groove 
sensation, as your soulboy uncle might say: 
dayglo bleeps splatter over woozy bass 
wobble in a crunkstep action painting. (SS) 

Sometimes, when the nights are long and 
lonely, and the G-force of these spiralling 
times is too much to bear, you really need 
a half-naked 20-stone tattooed lunatic 
wrapped in bandages to spray spittle in your 
face. It doesn't necessarily fully heal your 
hurts, but it at least lessens the throbbing. 
Formed from the ashes of raging weirdo 
punks Stretchheads, with a stray Idlewilder 
assimilated into their ranks, DeSalvo offer 
one of the most intense and exhilarating live 
experiences on this plane of existence. 

Tonight, the band rip through last year's 
monstrous Mood Poisoner album with 
pathological viciousness, the riffs of 'Oedipus 
Rising' and 'Cock Swastika' incomparably 
twisted and foul -and thus peerlessly brilliant. 

The multi-part 'Tonguescraper' offers 
audience-participation fun with its refrain of 
"Find them! And fuck them! And kill them! 
And bury them!" P6, a conquering emperor 
among frontmen, spends more time in the 
crowd than onstage. He humps monitors, dons 
a pig snout, gets up close and personal with 
the tonsils of a punter or two, and uses his 
Uruk-Hai physical presence and unholy screech 
to gouge his way into people's memories. Like 
Oxbow, like the Jesus Lizard, likeGG Allin, no 
one ever forgets a DeSalvo gig, though their 
counsellor may well advise them to try. 

Graeme JD Ronald's Remember 
Remember seems to be expanding at an 
exponential rate. Not so long ago, he was one 
man, a guitar, a glock and a loop pedal. 
Tonight, a five-piece band reconfigures his 
exercises in repetition and grand melodic 
gestures. It's joyous, communal stuff, the 
musical equivalent of spending an afternoon 
spotting Ernst compositions in cloud 
formations. Tomorrow night he will lead a 
1 2-piece ensemble. By the end of the year, 
we'll all be in Remember Remember, and we'll 
be happier because of it. (ME) 


Parish Chur 

Forget laptops and string quartets: 
how about composing for an instrument 
weighing several tonnes where a separate 
person plays each note? 

The fuseleeds festival, which actively 
commissions new works from composers 
and musicians, sees French electronica 
artist Colleen and composer Gavin Bryars 
handed the metaphorical pull-cords of the 
1 3 bells of Leeds Parish Church, their music 
ringing out across the city on the kind of 
pleasant spring afternoon usually reserved 
for wedding peals. Both composers' pieces 
acknowledqe the bells' historv as the 

sonic markers of matches, dispatches and 
the hourly seep of time, reframing those 
bittersweet Victorian clangs in an age 
of electronica, minimalism and discordant 

Whilst Bryars seems more rooted 

around at different speeds and pitches, 
Colleen takes a more melodic approach. 
Initially stately and spacious, her 
contribution becomes more playful, 
with fragmented, skipping note pairs, 
as though the invisible bellringers, those 
ghosts in the machine, are breaking free 
of their preordained rhythm. 
Abi Bliss 

Ether 09: Heiner GoebL 
Sampler Suite And Son 
Wars I Have Seen 

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Londoi 

Goebbels is a master of binaries: old 
and new, male and female, banal and 
bombastic. These different strands are 
evident during 'Songs Of Wars I Have 
Seen', where the women of the London 
Sinfonietta, separated on stage from their 
male colleagues, adopt the role of war 
widows relating passages from Gertrude 
Stei n's Wars I Have Seen. These texts 
are accompanied by instrumental ostinati 
and passages of musique concrete which, 
combined with the harmonies of baroque 

composer Matthew Locke, pitch the past 
against those condemned to repeat it. The 
piece closes with a breathtaking chorale 
of Tibetan singing bowls that transfixes 
and transports the mind away from the 
mundane conversations preceding it. 

Meanwhile, 'Sampler Suite' explodes 
with the kind of percussive salvo that 
would usually be found anchoring down 
a Rhys Chatham guitar storm, before 
riding out on Preisner-like piano curlicues, 
samples of Jewish cantor singing and 
Muslimgauze-esqe beats. The work ends 
as a choir of spectral voices pierce the 
structural debris. 
Spencer Grady 

plan b | 51 

He doesn't 
like to 
too often 

together we form jeff 

Words: Everett True 
Photography: Bob Battams 

Jeffrey Lewis 

The Old Museum, Brisbane 

He does the one about the history of the Russian 
Revolution, part four -the previous three sections 
were done the previous three nights and he doesn't 
like to repeat himself too often -set to a cartoon- 
drawn storyboard, and it lives up to the hype, 
inasmuch as he crams a load of words about a 
commonly-perceived-to-be-boring subject into 
a short amount of time, much I ike that crew who 
perform the entire works of Shakespeare in two 
hours, and managesto be humorous through his 
choice of rhyme and. ..timely pause. 

He does the one about breaking up with his 
girlfriend, using imagery of singing trees, and it's as 
repetitious and heartfelt as you'd want any break- 
up to be. He does the one about the Chelsea Hotel. 

He does the one wherein he makes a great play 
of switching his tape-recorder on down near the 
PA amps front of stage, and then makes a great 
play of introducing himself from the tape and then 
supplying harmony and back-up guitar for himself 
from the tape which is such an exceedingly effective 
and disarmingly lovable device it reminds me of 
a more unskilled (not a pejorative) David Thomas 
Broughton, given a New York accent and thinning 
head of hair and predilection for serenading with 
dry humour rather than dark, dark humour, and 
indeed it is so exceedingly effective - as, of course, 
is the storyboard comprised of child-like, Joe Matt- 
esque cartoons -that you'd imagine half the crowd 
present are thinking they'll steal it for their own act, 
although of course this being Brisbane and a sedate 
30-something crowd no one has a single thought of 
the kind, they instead just admire the way Mr Lewis 
is so self-deprecating in his humour, and wryly 
romantic in his losses. 

He does an introduction wherein he goes on 
about the bats - "as big as car windscreens" - he saw 
while waiting on the museum balcony forthe show 
to begin, know about them. 

He does another one about breaking up with his 
girlfriend in public and while this one doesn't invoke 
singing trees, it too is clearly sad and slightly bitter 
and heartfelt and so is to be encouraged. 

He doesn't do any songs that begin, "Big A/Little 
A/Bouncing B..." but I'm probably one of on ly 
about 1 1 who cares about that, and it does seem 
a little disrespectful to be so anarchistic in such 
august surroundings. 

He does invite the main act of the night-the 
storytelling Australian Darren Hayman-onstageto 
plonk away at an electronic keyboard to no obvious 
advantage, except perhaps the very real one of 
getting the home crowd to realise he's on their side. 

He lisps and drawls and does the whole Jeffrey 
Lewis bit to near (but not quite) perfection. But 
then, he is Thee Jeffrey Lewis. 

an MacLean 

een Elizabeth Hall, Lc 

"I feel like I'm playing Sunday night in 
a museum." John MacLean's sentiments 
mirror first impressions of the setting. 
The foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall is a 
refined space at the best of times, and late 
evening on the day of rest tends to inspire 
reflection rather than abandon. 

Despite his tepid reaction, the 
decadent Eighties retro-futurism of his 
highly physical synth-pop relaxes and 
flows, syncing with the stark jet-age 
grandeur of the building. Green and 
blue vectors project across the walls 

52 | plan b 

feel which, when blended with the 
illuminated panorama ofThames riverside 
architecture, creates an elegant celluloid 
tone that generations of detached disco 
children would kill for. 

Pools of movement swell among the 
crowd, and the gradual build and dip of 
the music, always suggesting but skilfully 
forestalling vulgar climax.This mix of the 
discerning and the base is distilled by 
excellent album primer 'One Day' - a 
staccato, tastefully euphoric gem which 
plays on a 1 -2 vocal narrative with LCD 
Soundsystem member Nancy Wang, both 
Catherall and Sulley to John/Juan's Phil 
Oakey. By the time the piano riff of 'Happy 

House' fills the room the transformation is 
complete. "Launch me into space "sings 
Nancy, the cosmos spinning around her 
as John smiles, and everybody moves. 
Jamie Kingett 


02, London 

I'm laughing out loud in a crowd ot white 
kids from the provinces and suburbs of 
Outer LDN. Girls in hot pink tracksuits 
wave bricolaged pillowcase flags with 
tearful intent. Big grown boys, set-jawed 
and without irony, prod the air in semblant 
rhythms and nod in some sort of rough 
time as the pop-grime beats drop among 

us, one by one and one-4-all. N-Dubz 
are the Abba of urban, the pantomime 
inherent in the performativity of the street, 
clownish and vaudevillian. Taking the tuffz 
of the MC battle to an "oh-no-he-doesn't" 
level of camp, Dappvand Fazer enqaqe 

the left and right sides of the crowd in a 
duelling wOOt-a-thon, whereupon Tulisa 
prevails upon the ladeez in the house to 
join her in quelling all that noiz, all at once, 
with the most consummate theatricality 
and slick and practiced repartee I've ever 
seen on the side of amiable. It couldn't be 
more charming if it tried. Who needs da 
real when showbiz iz = this. 
Jesse Darlin' 

One of many 
extended arms 


' - 



p^ j- 

t *^ 

more heat 

Words: George Taylor 
Photography: Shawn Brackbill 

Mi Ami 

The Macbeth, London 

Forming out of the ashes of frenetic punks 
Black Eyes, the San Franciscan trio Mi Ami 
(to pronounce it correctly just drop the space) 
appeared to take a slower approach on debut 
album Watersports. It saw guitarist/vocalist 
Daniel Martin-McCormick roam around the 
generous space echoing throughout seven 
songs textured in dub and polyrhythmic 
jams, all the while shrieking and tearing seven 
shades of no-chord shit out of his guitar. It was 
like listening in on a primal scream therapy 
session while Ege Bamyasi played at half- 
volume on yr MP3 player/discman/walkman. 

So you'd be forgiven if you'd arrived at 
The Macbeth expecting to witness an onstage 
exorcism of inner demons, willing to tap yr 
foot as you hold on to the bar, ready to move 
back a bit if things get a little hairy/scary; 
appreciating the performance at a distance 
but all the while secretly glad that you're just 
that little bit more stable (yeah, right). It turns 

out, though, Mi Ami have cut the wandering 
from their music, sheared it right off and 
decided to concentrate entirely on their 
unhinged/L/n/7e//7?//c/7 take on the punk-funk 
of contemporaries like Tussle and The Rapture. 

Witnessing the live show, you're reminded 
of when you researched the effects of high 
volume on the physical body, reading with 
lustful thoughts how shamans found caves 
with insane acoustic levels for musical 
performances - chanted or instrumental - 
in orderto induce the participants into 
a trance. Well, while this small pub in Hoxton 
is certainly not one of those caves, the three 
men on stage succeed in working their 
audience into a shaking, nodding huddled 
mass, unable to cease until the final kick 
on Damon Palermo's unrelenting bass drum. 
And, although the band try twice to end their 
set on what they no doubt consider their peak, 
they're forced by the hungry dancing zombies 
they've created to exhaust both their 
catalogue and themselves. 

Dancing barefoot-symbolic of freedom, 
authenticity, vulnerability- McCormick runs 
his tall skinnyframe through an unrehearsed 
series of leaps and spasms, flailing and gasping 

like a man, yes, 'possessed'. His powerful 
screech is turned up in the PA after the first 
song, a request by some savvy punter who's 
already sussed the potential Mi Ami have 
to enslave us all. Jacob Long cradles his bass 
protectively, slipping through the gaps in 
'Freed From Sin' with stuttering funk lines 
one moment, caressing the room's red 
wallpaper with sustained warm tones in 
'Pressure' the next. 

The effect is strikingly primitive in contrast 
to other groups who explore the nature of 
trance states through their live shows, such 
as Astral Social Club and Black Dice, whose 
use of digital sound makes for a far colder 
experience, yet expands the boundaries for 
expression -the difference between, say, 
cave painting and computer graphics. 
The strengths of Mi Ami reach beyond the 
corporeal however, the plaintive cry of 'I feel 
your pressure' scripted inside their record 
sleeve one of just many extended arms the 
band offer. When McCormick implores us 
to come closer, it's not as shamanic leader, 
but as an emotional artist who wants us 
to understand that he's in just as much 
a f ucked-up trance as the rest of us. 

PJ Harvey and John Par 

Casa da Musica, Portugal 

The Casa da Musica is a concrete crystal 
castle that has fallen from the sky, a maze 
of many spaces, each one skewing a 
conventional material or texture to render 
it brilliant. And in each of them, a different 
musician will perform tonight. PJ Harvey 
and John Parish can be found in a hall that 
is lined with a digital gold leaf pattern, 
curved green glass, a large seashell-shaped 
sound sculpture looming above the stage 
where she stands in a black dress and bare 
feet, the men around her in panama hats. 
They open with 'Black Hearted Love', 
and perform sonqs from both their 

collaborations, skipping across the 
colours of their musical palette with such 
generosity it is a pleasure to accompany 
them through the frailty, obsessive longing, 
foggy anger and elation that unfolds. After 
each song, PJ demurely says thank you to 

her incarnations punctuated with this 
polite professionalism, how easily she 
returns back from those strange places 
she so deftly describes. And she is a lot 
of different people tonight. Dancing 
haughtily around the stage, reaching 
heights and extremes, her voice is freed by 
Parish's musicianship to roam and contort. 
Like this traditional shoe-box concert hall, 

detailing, they rise above the others by 
the scope of ambition. 
Miranda lossifidis 

Eugene Robin 

Prince Albert, I 

It sounds like ships, is the first thing I think. 

The creaking of the Albert's fucked 
wooden chairs, amplifications of uneasy 
shifting, like groans from the subconscious 
of its stunned-silent audience. Eugene 
Robinson is talking about being six years 
old.Agroup of older boys have lured him 
onto wasteground, and are telling him they 
are going to kill him. He talks openly and 

slowly about the disturbing incidents 
which tore him away from a "happy-go- 
lucky" childhood and instilled him in 
the need to train, be tough, and fight back, 
plateauing in organised crime and a lyrical 

martial arts or the touring art-rock fight 
club" of Oxbow. He talks about these 
things like it's the first time he's ever had to 
think about them, and watching him relay, 
in his logic, the connections is fascinating. 
It's actually moving, and full of all the same 
beauty that in his writing he tries to imbue 
ugly fighting with. 

I came out feeling elated. 
David McNamee 

plan b I 53 

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25th - 26th JULY 
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Tickets £70 on sale now 



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and 100 more great acts to be announced on 6 stages 



I lira 75 J 

/truck, ,, Rough Trade East and local shops 

TRUCK is an independent, family- run festival founded in 1998. 

T H*T^ TTP TWT [hc local Rotary Club provide the food and the vicar sells ice-cream, 

^J^d A A A 111 In 2003 truckers helped raise over £50,000 for charities and goad causes. 


A tiny festival with a big heart (and fanbase), Truck is 12 this summer 
and is celebrating with its annual farm-based indie love-in. Ash and 
Supergrass have been announced as headliners, with YACHT (in which 
Jona Bechtolt makes his only UK festival appearance), Damo Suzuki, 
And So I Watch You From Afar and Errors bringing up the rear. 
Steventon Hill Farm (July 25, 26) 

now booking: green man 

Wilco interview: Douglas Stewart 

Have music festivals played 
an important part in your life 
as a music fan? 

"They have. Early on. ..I'm 
a New Orleans native, and we 
actually just played the Jazz And 
Heritage Festival two weeks ago. 
That brought back memories 
for sure. I started doing that in 
high school, that was the first 
festival I really became aware 
of.Growing up in New Orleans, 
you don't really know how 
rich the culture is until you 
go elsewhere. Also, the early 
Lollapaloozas. I do remember 
those. They were in New Orleans, 
starting in 1992, 1 guess. Uncle 
Tupelo was established then, so 
I was already in a band that were 
playing festivals in Europe." 

Do you recall any particular 
festival performances that 
made a big impression on 
you, both playing with Wilco 
and as an observer? 

"Well, one of my favourite 
festival moments was Coachella 
with Wilco in 2006. We had this 
sunset slot, and in terms of natural 
beauty it was the most memorable 
thing. The show was good, but 
just the beautiful dying desert 
light there. ..I remember being 
blown away by that. But let's see, 
the festival shows that I remember 
most. ..well, there's good and 
bad. I remember Chuck Berry, 
at the Jazz And Heritage Festival 
at some time in the late Eighties 
or early Nineties, as being the 
pinnacle. I didn't expect him 
to be that energetic. He was 
amazing. And Sunn O))), that 
was a good festival experience, 
I don't think I'll ever forget it. 
I finally sawthem in Europe the 
summer before, in Belgium. That 
glacial sort of rock... oh my god." 

Regarding the new album, 
Wilco (The Album), the 
rumour has been that it 
will take an experimental, 
studio-bound path similar to 
2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. 
It sounds more open than 
that to me, though. 

"It's interesting. I think Jeff 
and I have mentioned that in 

interviews - he's said as much, 
in terms of using the studio 
as more of an instrument. 
But I think it might evoke 
Summerteeth [the band's third 
album, 1 999] a little more for me, 
in terms of the band trying out 
new things. On thatalbum and 
Yankee Hotel, there are just tons 
and tons of tracks; and I think 
with Yankee Hotel that was more 
due to Jim O'Rourke's presence 
in the mixing phase of the record, 
whereas with Summerteeth all 
of the elements sort of stayed 
there. There's this sonic density 
on some songs, but then there's 
definitely more openness. 
It's sort of all over the place." 

The experimentation 
seems very subtle and 
organic, for the most part. 

"That's great. Funny you 
mention it, because just after 
Summerteeth there was 
definitely that sort of. . . 
claustrophobic elementto us, 
and I thinkthat it was a really 
conscious decision by Jeff and 
the band to make sure there's 
an openness to it as well." 

I'm curious about the 
album title - what's with 
the sudden swing toward 
the 'meta'? 

"[Laughs] I think it just came 
from... you know, whenever 
there's a self-titled record, you 
automatically think 'creative 
trouble' [laughs again], but it 
really wasn't in this situation. 
We all thought having a track 
titled 'Wilco, The Song' was 
really funny, and we did have a 
lot of working titles, but we all 
thought something humorous 
would work. So many records 
that Wilco have made, there's 
been a pursuit of lightness after 
the initial making of the record. 
Like, 'Wow, this is really dark, is 
there some way we can take it to 
a lighter place?' I think it fits." 
(John Stirratt) 

Wilco take refuge in the leafy haven of the 
Green Man festival, alongside Grizzly Bear, 
Animal Collective, FourTetand more. 
Wales Glanusk Park (August 21-23) 

a hop day at the farm 

Bounce about to Noah and the Whale; 
get sniffy to TheTwilight Sad. 
Kent Hop Farm (July 3-5) 


Studded with treats: Lily Allen, Peaches. 
Benicassim Recinto De Conciertos 
(July 16-1 9) 


Kraftwerk, Bat For Lashes and Micachu. 
Isle Of Wight Robin Hill Country Park 
(September 11-13) 

camp bestival 

PJ Harvey headlines. Other gems:Tinchy 
Stryderand Hugh Feamley-Whittingstall. 
Dorset Lulworth Castle (July 24-26) 

concrete and glass 

East London-straddling art-marathon with 
boundary-pushing bands and exhibitions. 
London various venues (Dates TBC) 

end of the road 

Leafy glades host Magnolia Electric Co 
and William Elliott Whitmore. 
Dorset LarmerTree Gardens 
(September 11-13) 


John Zorn, Aethenor, The Anti-Group and 
Comus play this cross-cultural event taking 
in 1 5 bands, 1 films and panels from 
academic theorists, historians and authors. 
London Camden Centre and Conway 
Hall (June 12-14) 


Enter a FORTRESS with Patti Smith. 
Serbia Novi Sad (July 9-1 2) 

field day 

Where Little Boots meets TheThing. 
London Victoria Park (August 1) 

get loaded in the park 

That's a command, OK? Booka Shade and 
Miss Kitten AndThe Hacker will help you. 
London Clapham Common (August 30) 


Ampitheatres deep in lush woodland host 
international and Norwegian acts. 
Norway Tromoya Arendal (June 22-25) 

la route du rock 

Amid the ramparts of a Saint-Malo castle 
you'll find John And Jehn and Jeremy Jay. 
France Saint-Malo Fort De Saint-Pere 
(August 20-22) 


Grace Jones, Nick Cave, The Pet Shop Boys. 
Suffolk Southwold Henham Park 
(July 16-1 9) 


The XX plus Squarepusher equals yum. 
Brighton Victoria Gardens (July 10-12) 

lounge on the farm 

Chill with Wild Beasts andTheWave Pictures. 
Canterbury Merton Farm (July 10-12) 


A former city of ironworks provides a unique 
backdrop for Aphex Twin and Ellen Allien. 
Berlin Ferropolis (July 17-19) 


Curator Ornette Coleman puts in two live 
appearances. Also: YokoOno's Plastic Ono 
Band featuring Sean Lennon and Antony 
Hegarty, Cornelius and Patti Smith with 
The Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra. 
London Southbank Centre (June 13-21) 


Yayfor Final Fantasy, The Field and HEALTH! 
Poland Myslowice Slupna Park 
(August 6-9) 


Norway's biggie, with Grizzly Bear and Wilco. 
Oslo Medieval Park (August 11-15) 

secret garden party 

A four day love-in with Jarvis Cocker, 
Phoenix, EmmyThe Great and Chew Lips. 
Cambridgeshire Huntingdon secret 
venue (July 23-26) 


Leeds-based mag Shut hasn't released 
lineup details just yet, but 2007 saw ballsy 
shirk rock from Trencher and Narcosis. Watch 
for Chinchillafest earlier in the month, too. 
Leeds Brudenell Social Club 
(June 20, 21) 


Spain's annual mind-meld, with Grace Jones, 
Late OfThe Pier, Orbital and Micachu. 
Barcelona various venues (June 1 8-20) 

standon calling 

Set in the grounds of a 1 6th Century manor 
house with a theme of 'Space'; so don your 
bubble-helmetforthe Sun Ra Arkestra and 
Chrome Hoof. 

Hertfordshire venue TBC 
(July 31 -August 2) 

summer sundae 

Lickyour lips for Chairlift and Saint Etienne. 
Leicester De Montfort Hall 
(August 14-16) 


Brum excels with Goblin and Zu. 
Birmingham Custard Factory 
(July 24-26) 


Patrick Wolf and Santigold thrill the kids. 
London Victoria Park (August 2) 


AU, Brethren OfThe Free Spirit and Youves. 
NetherlandsTilburg (September 

56 1 plan b 

estiva I preview 

now booking: indietracks 

Camera Obscura interview: Jamie Kingett 

You're playing Indietracks, a festival held at a 
steam railway in Derbyshire. Have you attended 
the festival before and was it one you were 
hoping to be invited to? 

"I've never been to the festival, although I heard 
about it last year. It's good that this one has a unique 
angle and identity; the UK is really good at producing 
independent festivals that are a bit special. We largely 
agreed to play the festival because of the connection with 
Elefant Records, who were our main label for years. There 
are some great bands playing but on the whole I would 
not to be too keen to be part of such a prescriptive scene." 

Introduce us to your tourbus. 

" Every van we hire smells like a pet shop, but that 
isn't our fault. Every tour I promise myself I'm going to 
give it a spring clean before we get in but I am a little too 
disorganised. Camera Obscura favour the quiet touring 
atmosphere; headphones, newspapers, books, silent 
hangovers and self-improvement." 

Let's talk about your new record. My Maudlin 
Career. How did the recording process differ 
from last time around? 

"The title came from a conversation between 
Tracyanne and myself. I suggested the title and she 
wrote the song. It's about the strangeness of what we 
do; thatTracyanne writes miserable songs about the 
aches in her heart and that we then we spend a year 
creating a record and performing it every night. It's also 
a vaguely allusive pun about a modelling career and the 
actual lack of glamour involved in both. 

It felt different this time around because we were in a 
different studio and Atlantis Studios have a lot of 
atmosphere and history. I like the element of the 
unknown - it's important, otherwise the process could 
seem very boring and stale." 

This album was made with help from 
the Scottish Arts Council. What sort of help 
do they give? 

"The Scottish Arts Council have a brilliant scheme 
where they award certain projects funding. We really 
appreciated the contribution as we were self-financing 
the recording prior to signing our deal with 4AD.The SAC 
have had a growing presence at SXSW the last few years; 
they award money to some bands to help with the cost 
of flying over, and they put on a showcase. It's great to 
see a council helping out in the arts in such a practical 
and beneficial way." 

Do you have any anecdotes from 
gigs involving technical problems or 
local misunderstandings? 

" Not so much a local misunderstanding as an 
example of international togetherness: Gav often keeps 

a model Tardis on his bass amp and the guys packing up 
for us in Mexico kindly told him, 'Your time machine is in 
your bass case.'" 

What's the absolute worst debauchery 
you've seen on the road? 

"We have had a few brushes with the law but for 
legal reasons I can't go into it. Generally, as a band, we 
are well-behaved, because we've spent years in shitty 
jobs in the service industry and don't like to make 
anyone's miserable job harder for them." 
(Carey Lander) 

Scotland's favourite popstars will play this year's 
Indietracks festival alongside Emmy The Great, ex-Pipette 
Rose Elinor Dougall, Au Revoir Simone and more; pin yer 
badges to yer cardigans and chocks away! 
Butterley Midland Railway Centre (July 24-26) 

& Hounds 

/Ethenor + v special guests 

A Hawk And A Hacksaw 

Mills & Boon + Chair maker 

Prefuse 73 

Diamond Watch Wrists (feat Zach Hill) 
+ Dimlite 

Supersonic Festival 

fcai Goblin + Corrupted + Head Of Davii 
Thorr's Hammer + Caribou + Growing 

+ many more 







X^^ +6UESTS 





^ ' 

live preview 

tour stories: a hawk and a hacksaw 

Interview: Jamie Kingett 
Photography: Cat Stevens 

Where are A Hawk and a Hacksaw currently based? Are 
you settled? 

"New Mexico is the only place in America where I can breathe 
freely so we've returned there. It's where we both met and grew up. 
At the moment we're trying to buy a bit of land out in the desert." 

You spent some time in Budapest a couple of years back, 
where you played with the Hun Hangar ensemble. Were you 
tempted to stay? 

"We went to Budapest planning to stay for three months and 
ended up living there for two years. I miss Hungary but it was time 
to leave. Family was calling. Now I feel that some of our family is 
in Budapest though, so we go back when we can." 

You've toured the UK a number of times now - what are 
your happiest memories of our fair land? 

"I lived in the UK before we went to Budapest and I love it. It feels 
like home when we're back. My happiest memory is from travelling 
between Leeds and Sheffield. We stopped along the way at a creek." 

How do you pass time on the road? Any crucial tour 
bus items? 

"We don't use a bus, we have a tour mini-van. Although while 
we were in the UK our friend Rob drove us around in an old Royal 
Mail bus which was a unique experience. To while away time I read; 
I always need a book. At the moment I'm reading a history of Eastern 
Europe after World War II." 

How do you communicate in countries where you don't 
speak the language? 

"We test the theory that music is a universal language. But 
I've learned to order alcohol in a variety of languages/dialects." 

Do you see yourself as an evangelist for your influences 
Do you feel that part of your task as a musician is to be an 
ambassador for the music you encounter? 

" I want people to look beyond the West for their musical 
encounters. If we help with that, I am immensely pleased. As with 
food, thought, art, architecture and culture in general, musicthat 
stems only from America and England is deeply, deeply limited." 

A track on your new record, 'I Am Not A Gambling Man', 
seems to pertain to the world financial crisis. What was the 
impetus to write that song? 

"I could feel things coming, and I started to obsess about a world 
where everything collapsed, not just the financial institutions. I wrote 
that in the spring of 2008." 

Tell us about touring with Portishead last year. 

" It was very flattering to be invited. They're very nice, down-to- 
earth people. The crowds were usual ly appreciative, but they were 
also, obviously, very excited to see Portishead. We had a few people 
in the front row faint during our set, and then be carried out by burly 
security men. I think that bands often invite us to open for them to 
challenge, provoke, or test their audience. That's fine with me." 
(Jeremy Barnes) 

The globetrotting couple tour new album Delivrance, a fiery whirligig of experiences 
gained in Budapest played out on bouzouki, violin, accordion and anything the two 
could lay their hands on. 

Brighton Duke Of York's Picturehouse (June 1 6), Bristol Fiddlers Club (1 7), 
London Cecil Sharp House (1 8), Gateshead Baltic (1 9), Stirling Tollbooth (20), 
GlasgowThe Arches (21), Manchester Ruby Lounge (22), Birmingham Hare 
And Hounds (23), Oxford Holywell Music Room (24), Norwich Arts Centre (25) 

David Thomas Broughton 

Loop-pedal minstrel visits London with 
a performance of debut album Complete 
Guide To Insufficiency. 
London ICA (September 24) 

jarvis cocker 

Some band called Pulp, yeah? 
Blackpool Empress Ballroom (June 10), 
Glasgow ABC (1 2), Brighton Dome 

crosby, stills and nash 

The original supergroup. 
Cork The Marquee (June 29), London 
Royal Albert Hall (July 1), Manchester 
Arena (1 0), Edinburgh Castle (11) 


New album Mythomania is a concoction 
of gospel choir and exotic percussion. 
Manchester The Deaf Institute (June 1), 
Cardiff Buffalo Bar (2) 

das wanderlust 

Splinter-sharp but cutesy, Das Wanderlust 
are the band that opted for twee - only 
to take it home and hack it to pieces. 
Sunderland The White Rooms (June 
19), Cumbria Fell Foot Woods (20) 

dan deacon and the wham city 

Fluorosynth-popfrom Baltimore's 
family king, this time with a full band 
(1 5 members strong) in tow and support 
from the digi-delectable Future Islands 
and Teeth Mountain. 
Manchester Club Academy (June 2), 
Dublin Andrew's Lane Theatre (3), 
London ULU (5) 


Sugar-voiced gal Satomi Matsuzaki and 
her boy bandmates make a welcome return. 
Leeds TJ's Woodhouse Club (June 28), 
Manchester Deaf Institute (29), 
London Scala (July 1), Brighton 
Concorde 2 (2), London Hyde Park (3), 
Dublin Whelan's (1 0), Galway Roisin 
Dubh (11), CorkThe Pavilion (1 2) 

gang gang dance 

The Brooklyn rabble-rousers had to 
cancel their last tour due to a freak fire 
(even their soundcards melted); here's 
to a luckier future and this, something 
of a comeback gig. 
London Dingwalls (June 1) 


Opaque, bleak arrangements from three 
Brooklyn pals. Highly recommended. 
London Luminaire (July 20), 
Birmingham Custard Factory (25) 

infinite livez 

Now living in Berlin; still ploughing those 
fuzzy electronics and killer beats. 
Cheltenham Frog And Fiddle (June 13), 
London Notting Hill Arts Club (1 6) 

junior boys 

Sparse, electronic pop from twosome 
channelling minimal techno and thoughtful 
hip-hop; new album, Begone Dull Care, is 
pretty sleepy, tho'. 

London The Arches (June 5), Coventry 
Kasbah (6), Dublin Academy (7), 
Manchester Club Academy (9) 

lady sovereign 

She might only be five foot one, but 
young Lady Sov is still a pretty formidable 
prospect (and she's just gone and released 
latest LP Jigsawon her own imprint, the 
aptly named Midget.) 

Brighton Concorde 2 (June 6), Glasgow 
King Tut's (8), Birmingham Academy 2 
(9), London King's College (1 0), 
Norwich Waterfront (1 1), Manchester 
Academy 3 (12) 

malcolm middleton 

Former Arab Strap big-wig gets intimate 
and plays songs from new album on Full 
Time Hobby, Waxing Gibbous. 
Stirling Tolbooth Theatre (June 26), 
Glasgow King Tut's (28), Manchester 
Night And Day (29), London ICA (30), 
Birmingham Glee Club (July 1), Bristol 
Thekla (2), Nottingham Bodega (3), 
Newcastle Cluny (4) 

m ward 

The oatmeal-and-honey-voiced troubadour 
runs through this year's album, HoldTime. 
Nottingham Rescue Rooms (June 28), 
Manchester Club Academy (29), 
London Shepherd's Bush Empire (30) 

okkervil river 

Scruffy-smartTexans headed up by Will Sheff 
tread the boards. 

Manchester Academy 3 (September 4), 
Birmingham Academy 2 (5), Galway 
Roisin Dubh (7), Glasgow Oran 
Mor (9), Nottingham Rescue 
Rooms (1 0), Oxford Academy 2(11), 
London Scala (14) 

plants and animals 

French Canadian bunch make brooding 
dreamscapes for those nights where 
you're feeling a little less, uh, 'sober' 
than usual. Album ParcAvenue\s 
a hazy, impressionistic trip. 
London Luminaire (June 3) 

toddla t 

Hardy Sheffield promoter-come-DJ-come- 
producer-come-upcoming hip-hop star 
continues to ride his effervescing glory 
wave. Altogether now: "Rice and peas 
and chicken is nice! Tastes so good we 
got to have it twice!" 
London Fabric (June 5), Doncaster 
Priory (1 2), Manchester Roadhouse 
(20), Preston Coda (July 11), London 
Matter (24), London Fabric (31 ) 


Scratchy hallucinogenic pop from one 
dude who reallyWkes to smoke 'is 'ash. 
Oxford Jericho Tavern (June 21), 
London Luminaire (22), Bristol Cooler 
(23), ManchesterThe Deaf Institute 
(24), Glasgow Captain's Rest (25), 
Leeds Cockpit (26), Cardiff Buffalo 
Bar (27), Nottingham The Social (28) 


Tweedy and co set our hearts aflutter. 
London Troxy (August 25), Dublin 
Vicar Street (27, 28) 

james yorkston 

Trusty Scot finishes up his Scottish Arts 
Council-supported tour. 
Kendal Brewery Arts Centre (June 5), 
Gateshead Sage (11) 

58 1 plan b 

Loop returns to the heart 
of the city, this year 
stretched across the entire 
weekend and featuring live 
performances from: 


Fever Ray 

The Matthew 

Herbert Big Band 


Emiliana Torrini 


Fujiya & Miyagi 

Joakim & The Disco 


The Field 



The Invisible 

The Portico Quartet 



Mira Calix + Quayola 


The XX 


James Yuill 

We Have Band 

Hatcham Social 

Sian Alice Group 

The Qemists 


The Glimmers 

Many more acts to be announced 

Plus collaborations with 
onedotzero_ adventures 
in motion festival, 
presenting an explosive 
showcase of internationally 
curated moving image, 
featuring ground-breaking 
short film screenings, 
playful installations and 
spectacular live audiovisual 

*The Matthew Herbert 
Big Band will launch the 
festival with, LoopLoud, 
on Friday 10 th July at the 
Brighton Dome Concert 
Hall. Separate tickets are 
available for this event, 
priced £18.50 or as part of 
a festival bundle priced £65. 

New Music, New Ideas 
10 th — 12 th July 2009 
Victoria Gardens, 
Central Brighton 

2 day pass — £40 
With LoopLate — £50 

Saturday 11 th 

12:00 until 22:00 — £26.50 
With LoopLate — £35 
LoopLate only — £1 1 .50 

Sunday 12 th 

12:00 until 19:00 — £16.50 

All prices subject 
to booking fee 

Tickets on sale now at: 

and usual outlets. See website for more details. 

who killed yr idols? 

Vords: Jessica Hopper and JR Nelson 

lustration: Lauren Minco 

Sonic Youth 

The Eternal (Matador) 

Sonic Youth, you are too much. Is The 
Eternal good? Is it right? Is it only natural? 
What is the appropriate answer? 

You could lay the timing at the feet of 
Providence that you, mighty Sonic Youth, 
came around when you did; you were the 
quintessential alternative rock act in an era 
desperate for alternatives. But now you are 
bumming us out! 

Is this American Beauty riff ic 
dark-siding our moons? 

Not that this complaint has anything to do 
with this particular record, but, after decades 
of being kind of cool with it, your contributions 
to the curatorial sense of musical development 
via 'band as personal accessory' are finally 
bumming us out! 

Are sour, churning riffs the Lou Reed 
solipsism of yesteryear? Is a Swarovski- 
encrusted corpse of a blood-drained idea 
gonna bring you to life? 

Like any great band, you found the world 
distasteful! And then laid waste to matter all 

Your maudlin career with one foot in 
the grave is the sound of the universe asleep 
in the bread aisle; dark days/light years, 
sometimes I wish y'all were an eagle singing 
a song of shame; the early years (+1 ). 

Do young people like music this 
samey? Are Sonic Youth beyond good 
and bad? Are they beyond our judgement? 

Where Dan Deacon is credited for his 
lifelike-ness, and Baltimore, our new 
neon nation-aorta, is rising from the sea 
like Atlantis on a floaty- a hive where people 
staplejuiceboxestopizzaboxesand name it 
art- lies an impressionable generation praising 
Doritos for their design aesthetic. And this 
unworried, infinite chime and grind is all you 
can muster to lure them away from such death? 

Is music just for the oppressively 

The World Health Organisation has declared 
Saccharine Trust Worship in 2009 to be an 
"imminent pandemic". So you can't go there, 
Sonic Youth, and that is bumming us out! 

Why is the Pussycat Dolls better 
than Lee's solo same solo same same 
solo minor doo doo skiffle? 

i i 1 1^1 ■ il Vl^A £TC 



the way down to atomic sub-structural level 
with your guitars to exact your revenge. Pretty 
sweet moves, but now you are bumming 
us out! 

Is life for the living or just for 
the hauntologists? 

Mascis has his own Nike shoes. You have 
a warmed-over minor chord, 'Mary Christ' 
six different ways. 

Does vibe count for much when the 
world is like a daylight strip club? 

The fact that you gave Mark Ibold a job that 
isn't minimum wage is bumming us out! 

Is fashion a riddle on a par with 
glamour? Does a moneyed interest exist 
for The Eternal? 

Vaguely polemicist but entirely affable, the 
lyrics on these songs are really bumming us out! 

Who can turn the world on with a 
smile? Can you hate the sin and hide 
the sinner? 

The fact that all your guitars got stolen 
a few years ago and you didn't take that as 
a sign from above is bumming us out! 

Why didn't Kim ever go solo? Do they 
expect us to like this when we are old? 

You can have what you want. Kicks mean 
everything to nothing, I do not want what 
I have not got. And neither do you. 

Is the nature of celebrity abusive to us? 

Thurston, you are in serious danger of 
becoming the Alan Alda of indie rock. Since 
Steve already looks like Father Mulcahy and 
Loretta Swit/Kim jokes are appallingly easy, 
you need to tread very carefully. 

Is Sonic Youth an Old Testament angry 
God, or a good son Nazarene? 

Absent any interrogation of pleasure, The 
Eternal is like watching an animal pace its cage. 

Why don't we ask the same of Conor 
Oberst or Bright Eyes or C&C Music 
Factory? Do you like house music? In the 
neon lights of recession-bruised 2009, 
how does The Eternal stack up against 
a stockpile of Tamif lu and some surgical- 
grade facemasks and gloves? 

We were promised raw abandon and 
delicious skin-shivers in the triple-combo 
back-up vocals (Lee, Kim, Thurston), but our 
skin isn't shivering. Apart from the caking 
pus of swine pox, not much is going on with 

60 1 plan b 

t ss 








Words: Robin Wilks 
Illustration: Carla Barth 


Desire Lines (Smalltown Supersound) 

For a while back there, 'chillout' had become 
something of a dirty word. Perhaps it was the 
perceived audience: stoner shut-ins, monged-out 
rave casualties, smelly space cadets. The spectres 
of a thousand terrible Cafe del Mar-style 
compilations cast their shadow over the scene. 
The whole idea of a music that promoted 
a 'relaxed' lifestyle was frowned upon. 

In this context, the name of the new 
project from London's Idjut Boys and Norway's 
Rune Lindbaek seems almost provocative. 
A 'meanderthaP is a neologism for someone 
who deliberately progresses slowly, clogs up 
the motorway, stands on the wrong side of 
the escalator, refuses to walk in a straight line. 
And the relaxed, slowly unfolding grooves of 
Desire Lines fit that mood perfectly. 

Now, of course, with the recent resurgence in 
all things Balearic, slo-mo and feelgood, this kind 
of thing feels totally natural; the bearded hippie 
beach-bum has returned triumphantly to pop 
culture's centre stage. And he beats coked-up 
teenage MC5 wannabes in drainpipes any day. 

Separately, Idjuts Dan Tyler and Conrad 
McDonnell and Lindbaek are experts in producing 
sample-heavy, upbeat and sometimes surreal 
disco collages ('edits' doesn't really do them 
justice somehow). Lindbaek's Klubb Kebabb 
and the Idjuts' Gruble (under the Phantom Slasher 
alias) are good places to start if you want to explore 
this side of them. But the freewheeling jams of 
Desire Lines, recorded live in one session, display 
a tangible shift in gear toward more horizontal, 

The bearded hippie 
beach-bum has 
returned to pop 
culture's centre stage 

blissed-out grooves with psych-rock touches. 

Desire Lines could perhaps be seen as a 
musical equivalent of the Slow Food Movement. 
Its gradual pace might well bore some restless 
souls to distraction - not one of these tunes 
progresses anywhere in any kind of a hurry - but, 
given space and time to develop at their own 
speed, their ample charms reveal themselves. 

The tempo and atmosphere are never a million 
miles away from now-unfashionable Nineties 
downbeat acts like KruderAnd Dorfmeisteror 

even Lemon Jelly. But keep an open mind and 
you'll find much to cherish here, from the blissful, 
tinkling piano-led 'Bugges Room' - like Henrik 
Schwarz and Tangerine Dream collaborating to 
score an epic tearjerker of a movie - to the title 
track, with its rolling guitar riffs, synth washes and 
mountain-range soundscapes, and the ominously 
looming cosmic rock of 'Lasaron Highway'. Then, 
there's 'Andromeda (Prelude To The Future)', which 
feels like a leisurely journey through outer space- 
or there's the softly-softly creeping dubbiness of 
'1-800-288-SLAM' and opener 'Kunst Or Ars', 
which, with its sunshine-bright acoustic, gentle 
slide guitar and steel drums, is an aural postcard 
of happy times under a wide-open sky. 

On the face of it, the task of evoking sunny, 
deserted beaches and gently crashing tides and 
so on reeks of total cliche - but really, it feels only 
natural that music containing this much space, 
depth and calm should be compared to such 
landscapes. And, just as daydreams of sand and 
surf can keep a bored office slave from going 
completely nuts, the liberating, soothing 
atmosphere of this music can revive anyone's tired, 
embittered spirits and welcome the listener to 
a more serene place. Call them aimless meanderers 
if you will. But, in producing the laidback tonic of 
Desire Lines, Lindbaek and the Idjuts are doing their 
own little bit to make the world a happier place. 

Adaptations: Mixtape#1 (Kompakt) 

You know the instant sense of euphoria 
that hits your gut when you're spinning Gui 
Boratto orThe Field? Well, you can add this 
little baby to that joyous list. Despite being 
built around a framework constructed from 
the bare bones of melodic house (propulsive 
beats, flickering electronic burbles and 
synthetic siren calls), Adaptationsworks 
so well because of its ability to alter course 
without ever relinquishing the tyranny of 
the beat. From the plaintive, almost 
David Sylvian-esque beginnings of Ada's 

sublime 'Grand Canyon' - a reworking of 
Tracey Thorn's original -to the panoramic 
sweep and pitch-shifted vocal strains of 
'Our Blindhouse', it's clearthat this album 
is miles away from being just another 
brainless DJ mix. 

With the bonus of reinterpretations 
from her back catalogue by the likes 
of Michael Mayer and DJ Koze, Ada's 
Adaptations: Mixtape # 1 is an essential 
album realised through the eyes of an 
architect and the heart of a poet; a thing 
of uttermost, driving beauty. 
Spencer Grady 

Tony Allen 

Secret Agent (World Circuit) 

Nigerian drummer and Afrobeat pioneer 
Tony Allen has become something of a 
cottage industry of late. From the Lagos 
Shake remix project- in which the 68-year- 
old musician chopped up Bonde do Role and 
Newham Generals with Salah Ragab and 
Terrence Parker -and his high-profile work 
with Damon Albarn through to the stream of 
reissues on labels like Strut and Vampi Soul, 
his hard and expressive rhythms have been 
giving the guts to both new and old on 
a regular basis. This, though, is his first solo 

full-length since 2006, and it's as close 
a thing to a sure shot as you're ever gonna 
find. The brass is as wound-tight as the 
guitar's dusky licks are spun-loose, and 
Allen's beats don't so much break as bubble, 
or simmer in the pot. 

The words, as usual, are full of anger 
and protest- against incarceration, against 
ignorance - and when they are not, they 
are, instead, celebrations, or hipswinging 
hollers calling out moves. 

This record snatches at life and grips 
'til its knuckles drain white. 
Ben Mechen 

62 | plan b 

TDft Efotorfy <*r Apt <&Wm 


>ylvester Anfang II" CD 6 ltd. 2LP 
lie cult return with all new Flemish voodoo t 
Satanadelic psych and goat worshipping bunkur jams that herald 

a new era. The line up now features members of IGNATZ, 



Gatef old double LP limited to 500. 

"Deeply zonked acid-rock built of growled Beefhez.. _ _ _ 

fizzing organ, drums beamed back from some Amon Dui 

commune freak-out, guitars noodling on 'til the clos 

the Kali Yuga..." Plan B 

Burial Hex/ 
Zola Jesus LP "Thelema" CD Winged LP 

"Malefeasance" CD 6 ltd. 2LP 
In the wake of their fisrt AB release "Mord und Totschlag", 
L'ACEPHALE return with a lengthy and complex work that 
further explores their fascinations, striking headlong into the 
darkest of musical vistas. With a more experimental edge than 
before, "Malefeasance" lays waste to new territories, combining 
Metal, Noise, Industrial, Folk and Ethnic musics in a new 
glorious fusion that transcends genre across six tracks - a 
sive 89 minutes of music. Both formats include a 20 page 
let. Double 180gm vinyl edition comes with an Al poster, 
and is limited to 500. 


FAUNA The Hunt" CD p. m/w A ..< c , mi> i 

RYE WOLVES 2LP dlstro and mai1 °/ der: 

journey to ixtlan 2lp w w 






RICHARD SERRA, out-of-round X, 1999 Paintstick on Hiromi paper, 79 1/2 x 79 inches, (201.9 x 200.7cm) 


% 4> i 

there ain't no 'good' in our goodbye-ing 

Words: Stevie Chick 
Illustration: Dimitri Simakis 

Raise your glasses in an ode to the underdog; because 
the beat, always, goes on 

Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey Birds: Dracula Boots (In The Red) 
Thee Oh Sees: Help (In The Red) 
Wavves: Wavvves (Bella Union) 
Crocodiles: Summer Of Hate (Fat Possum) 

Despite all the evidence, I'm not a pessimist. I don't 
really know for sure where my faith in everything 
ultimately being OK comes from, though I reckon I 
gleaned something from the seeming invulnerability 
of the human creative instinct, its ability to traverse 
circumstances and somehow thrive. 

Within the margins, much fevered spirit 
and eccentric invention pulses with the kind of 
cockroach-stubborn energy that a global economic 
downturn could never upend. Believe me, I'll crane 
a hopeful ear in the Pop direction 'til the day I die, 
an effort that's ever and endlessly repaid, but 
I know my heart lies with the eccentric upstarts, the 
hobbyist minnows, the impossible dreamers and 
the noise-damaged idiosyncrats...and particularly 
those located in the US, where the vastness of 
the country - the weirdness of its culture - seems 
to breed further sonic weirdness, and vastness, 
swarming like a virus that has no cure. 

Kid Congo Powers is a carrier, and he knows 
it. He spent LA punk's tequila sunrise slinging guitar 
with The Cramps and The Gun Club before signing 
on for a tour of duty with The Bad Seeds, and 
Dracula Boots, Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey 
Birds' debut on In The Red, betrays the sick and 
edgy garage rock vibe that has always infected 
his guitar playing. Dracula Boots is a 1 2-movement 
symphony of twang and slapback, of lean groove 
and mournfully eerie Fifties tremolo, of aching 
croon and sinister whispers. The ghostly freak-beat 
of 'Black Santa' is a standout, the timeless death- 

rattle of the maracas moving 
over a tight snare and restless 
bass drum thump. The muted 
hand-clap and Farfisa vignette, 
'La Llarona', however, reveals 
the album's true, perverse 
core - Powers' vinegary slur 
is pregnant with ill intent, 
an electric tension that 
pervades throughout. 
Garage rock is also 
imprinted in the DNA of 
labelmates Thee Oh Sees; 
their latest album stirs up an anarchic stomp from 
irresistible, rousing basslines and a clamour of 
guitar warped and waned by cheap FX, drizzled and 
decayed with echo and delay, former Coachwhip 

My heart lies with 
the eccentric upstarts, 
the hobbyist minnows 
and the impossible 

John Dwyer yelping like a droney circus-master 
over the melee. Their gift for rusticated melody, 
for garage-mucky tunefulness, is undeniable; 
what makes Help such a treat is the way Dwyer 
and cohorts mangle and unsettle their confections 
with production weirdness and period detail, 
evoking the savant genius of Sixties garage-urchins 
misusing every gizmo in a cheap and tacky studio. 
That energy, that sense of infectious mischief and 
errant invention, becomes as much a 'hook' as the 
ringing and ragged choruses, as the hypnotic raw 
guitar licks. Like Black Lips and The Hospitals, they're 
leery anarchists squandering their songcraft upon 
an eccentricity that leads them into eternal but 
honoured obscurity, and, as long as this attitude 
yields such unique and odd pop as the woozily 

cascading 'Can You See?', I'll fervently support 
them. Because there's something glorious about 
taking a great, accessible pop melody and smearing 
it in so much abstruse sonic shit that it's basically 
unlistenable to 99 per cent of the general audience. 
I don't know if that's just some juvenile admiration 
of artistic self-destruction, or something deeper; 
to be honest, the thrill is so precious I don't want 
to ruin it through over-analysis. 

But Wavves, aka San Diego pop savant Nathan 
Williams, understands. His second self-titled album 
(this time with three Vs) shares its fi with Times 
New Viking; it's recorded like it's warped, and there's 
a wind tunnel whooshing through the foreground. 
Why sabotage such confections so? Because 
Williams evidently loves texture and dissonance 
as much as melody, and knows that, together, they 
make a sum grander than its parts. Anyone can 
write a great pop song; only a genius, though, could 
imbue that song with some of their own internal 
tumult, sweetening the pop with the contrast. 

Same with Crocodiles, whose Summer Of 
Hate throws similarly askew and cherishable shapes 
amid the muddle. 'I Wanna Kill' refracts Spector-pop 
through a sociopathic lens, like if you could ever 
hear Psychocandy again without remembering the 
saggy gothsJ&MC became. Elsewhere, Crocodiles 
conjure up bitter bedroom psychedelia ('Flash Of 
Light'), blend Pete Townshend spite with woozy 
synth softness ('Summer Of Hate') and reach rich 
plateaus of off-kilter MBV dreaminess ('Here Comes 
The Sky'), all the while sounding as unique as their 
grubby fingertips. 

So no, I'm not a pessimist. Mankind is, as Bill 
Hicks once said, a virus with shoes - but the culture 
of this culture is something that endures, and this is 
doubly true within the underground. Artists, labels 
and even magazines will come and go; but the 
art, the culture, will endure, ever enlivened by the 
marginals who burn briefly, but brighter because 
of that, and ever according to their own rules. 

So: this one's for the beautiful losers, and the 
knowledge that, sometime soon, the underground 
will rise again. 

64 1 plan b 


Aberdeen - One Uj 
Dumfries - Barnstorm 
Ediiburgh - Avilineh* 

Edinburgh - Underground Solution 

isguvf - Avalanche 
Paisley - Apollo Musk 


Aberystwyth - Andys 
tariff -S pill* r J 
Newport - Cheap thrill* 
Newport - Diverse 

E»VD3r: - Rocfcaway 

wan sea - Derricks 


Walerfoid - BPM Records 


iu> { ■ Vibes 
!sngletoi - Afi A Discs 
Liverpool - Probe 
Manchester - Piccadilly fte;ords 
Preston - ActfoP Records 


Leeds -Crash 

■ JLmbo Records 
ewcastle - Beatdawn 
Newcastle - Reflex 
Ntwcastle - ftPM 

)? Tee ■=; - Scujrd it Out 
Huddersfield - Badlands 
Huddersfield - Wall of Sojrd 
Sheffield - Jacks 
Whitby -Folk Devils 





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- Rttord Saving 
Birmingham - Polar Bear 
Birmingham - Tempest 
r - Sonic Boom 


Bridport - Eridport Music 
- Badlands 
in - Rise 
Cornwall * Jam 
Ha r ley - Head records 
rley - Music Mania 
Herefo'd - Temple 

- Head Records 
lOfeugh - Sound Knowledge 
Shrewsbury - Recycled Records 

- 3aves From 'he Grave 
Stroud - Kanes 

Tolnes-theDriM Record Shop 
Wimboume - Square Records 
Yeovil - Atfvr 


Brighton - Resident 
ighton - Rounder 
London - Casfaah 

&n - Dad a Records 
London - Rough Trade East 

- 3ouc.h Trade Talbol Rd 
London - Sister Ray 
Norwich - Sounddash 
QnFofC - Raplura 
Scunthorpe - Record Village 

■ Record Corner 
























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under my stylus: f ol c. , 

Aztec Camera 

High Land, Hard Rain (Sire) 

"Teenage prodigy Roddy 

Frame notoriously emptied 

his reservoir of genius 

with his debut, High Land, 

Hard Rain, but the flames 
that burn brightest. . .you know. Beyond the awe one feels knowing 
that the album is the work of a 1 9-year-old, this record offers all 
the joys of timeless pop: million dollar hooks, clever-but-not-Elvis- 
Costello-clever lyrics, heavenly vocals, and - something that's rare in 
indie-virtuoso guitar. Roddy makes an offer: "Honest to goodness, 
girl, I'd kiss you with the lips of the lord. "The lips of the lord? Holy 
shit- who could refuse? Ladies, have you seen what he looked like 
in 1 983? Go YouTube the video for 'Oblivious' and get back to me. 
I've heard people complain about how this record sounds 'dated'. 
And it's true: lots of records from that era are still influencing the way 
pop records sound today, but this is not one of them. To be honest, the 
production sounds more like Phil Collins than Phil Oakey, with its too- 
wet reverb, 'electronic' drums (not the good kind) and 'jazzy', fretless, 
bass-prominent roles. Maybe it's some kind of sonic Stockholm 
Syndrome, but I've come to think it's charming as fuck. And though 
the postcard seven-inch recording of 'We Could Send Letters' is cooler 
(by which I mean 'cooler'), the version on High Land, Hard Rain makes 
up for lost hipness with a sweep and grandeur that probably made 
Alan Home puke, but makes me swoon like a lovesick schoolboy." 
(Samuel Bing) 

Ambivalence Avenue (Warp) 

One wonders exactly where Warp is going 
to end in the dilution of its achievements. 
Having spent so many years manufacturing 
the future, the label has, in recent times, 
stooped to releasing Maximo Park and 
regressive folktronica, such as this release 
from Black Country-based producer 
Stephen Wilkinson. 

Futurist guttersniping aside, it is rather 
pleasant: alternating between purely 
electronic tracks and processed acoustic 
songs, the album is cloaked in a haze of 
creeping autumn. The song-based pieces, 
usually cyclical and acoustic with help 
from the laptop, have a faded, sepia-tinted 
quality-the sort of thing you could imagine 
Burial creating if he had dug Nick Drake 
instead of jungle.Attimes — as on 'Abrasion' 
and 'Lover's Cravings' -this can be as 
amniotically lovely as a late-afternoon swim, 
Wilkinson's tenor curling appealingly at the 
edges. The best electronic tracks, such as 'Fire 
Ant' and 'Sugarette', call to mind the vocal 
fractures of 2 -step, their conventionally 
pleasant beats given just the slightest patina 
of glitch. Only 'S'Vive' reconciles the two, 
vocal cut-ups and funk bass dissolving into 
watery field-recordings. 
Daniel Barrow 

Bike For Three! 

More Heart Than Brains (Anticon) 

There's a short story by EM Forster called 
The Machine Stops. In it, it's the far-off future, 
and everyone on Earth exists inside separate 
cells, never seeing sunlight, never seeing 
anyone else except via an imperfect video 
linkthatthe 'Machine' provides. Some might 
say that we are, today, moving fast toward 
Forster's nightmarish vision. Take Bike For 
Three!, in which Canadian indie rapper 
RichardTerfry (aka Buck 65) teams up with 
Belgian artist Joelle Phuong Minh Le to make 
an album rich with subtle colours, rhythms, 
textures. The two have never met. Le makes 
the largely electronic music and sends it to 
Terfry - extinguishing, it seems, the 'myth' 

of chemistry. Still, More Heart Than Brains 
doesn't feel cold. In 'Always I Will Miss You. 
Always You', Terfry recites: "When I heard 
your music I tried to dance and fell/Every time 
I come close you disappear into thin air". 
There's a strange romance here, he and Le 
reaching out over an uncompromising gulf, 
never touching. These are their love letters. 
Darren Loucaides 

James Blackshaw 

The Glass Bead Game (Young God) 

Listeners to any of James Blackshaw's 
previous albums will know him as the 
lightning-fingered master of 1 digits, 
1 2 strings and the sound of hundreds of tiny 
suns bursting through clouds. As with last 
year's Litany Of Echoes, he pulls up a piano 
stool and hits the sustain pedal, alternating 
the crystalline, dulcimer-like cascades of his 
guitar pieces with more vaporous, billowing 
forms of flowing harmony. The stately chords 
and keening cello of 'Fix' nod toward the 
Max Richter school of nostalgic melancholy, 
while the 1 8-minute closer 'Arc' shares Terry 
Riley's distillation of transcendent calm from 
repeated precision, painting a rainbow of 
overtones above a heaving mass of ripples. 
Strings, woodwind and Lavinia Blackwall's 
wordless vocals help pull out threads of 
melody, but, in truth, Blackshaw's just as 
dazzling when solo. His monkish devotion 
to perfecting those picking skills comes 
to the fore on 'Bled', where the fruits of his 
toil explode in vivid bursts of illumination. 
Abi Bliss 

Chicks On Speed 

Cutting The Edge (Chicks On Speed) 

When vapid teenagers Vivian Girls made 
their infamous interview gaffe late last 
year, snorting with uncomprehending 
laughter at the drab social lives of proles 
who aren't in bands, I was reminded how 
little expectation remains that women who 
readily describe themselves as 'punk' will 
make intelligent, politically astute pop art. 
Chicks On Speed are the band that Robots 
In Disguise might once have aimed to be, 

had they ever been able to see past their 
fringes: a cross-platform feminist art project, 
at once scattergun and fine-tuned, tossing 
off pop-art and girl-pop references as 
passionately as each deserves. This new 
double album is as adroit as it is vicious, 
combining experimentalism (the songs were 
performed, in the main, on new instruments 
of the Chicks' own design) with a dizzying 
array of pop references and real-time 
collaborations, including with The B-52's 
Fred Schneider and Mark Stewart of 
The Pop Group. Agit-pop hasn't been so 
choleric, or so joyful, since Huggy Bear. 
I'm hoping these songs are remixed to heck 
all summer-dancefloor long; it's about time 
the Chicks got the airtime they deserve. 
Petra Davis 


Thought Becomes Reality (Mythical 

The current economic crisis has left egg 
on the face of many, but a few made it 
out of the door before the roof came down. 
Circulus certainly look smart now that our 
fantasy land has imploded - the self-styled 
jesters of shroomed-up pixie-prog and 
their realm of magical medievalism seem 
unaffected. Despite all the instrumental 
and melodic historicising, Thought Becomes 
Reality is tightly structured into a series 
of short bubblegum folk songs. From the 
wistful, Wilde Flowers-influenced 'Michael's 
Garden' to the Elizabethan rock of 'Fortunate 
One', this record will divide listeners along 
the same lines as their last two did. Circulus 
are prog in aesthetic rather then ethic - that 
doesn't change - and they are infectiously 
fun. If you were as cheery as they are, why 
on earth change a thing? 
Patrick Moran 

Clues (Constellation) 

So Alden Penner has spent the last five 
years doing, urn, something or other, 
during which time his erstwhile Unicorns 
bandmate NickThorburn kind of had his 
chance at the big time and kind of blew it, 
Islands' hilariously paranoid second album 
being deemed sub-par by an uncaring 
case, it's finally Penner's turn to try and do 
something with the legacy of the psychotic 
Montreal popstrels that spawned him, 
and it's a murky tack he's taken with Clues. 
Maybe not murky by standards of new home 
Constellation, but, for an indie-pop album, 
Clues' aura of creeping dread is palpable, 
its hooks constructed from mechanistic 
thumps and dry screeds of feedback, its 
haunted churns of brass dancing around 
threatening chants and muttered words 
about mushroom clouds and severed 
heads. It's an unsettling work that speaks 
of morbidity and psychic decay, but it's 
effective for that -'In The Dream' collapses 
into wordless, night-kissed chimes, while 
'Ledmonton's hard fought climax has a 
weight that goes way beyond The Unicorns' 
sugar-crazed gibbering. Playtime is over. 
Andrzej Lukowski 

Jarvis Cocker 

Further Complications (Rough Trade) 

Lest we forget, some six years ago Jarvis 
Cocker adopted the stage name Darren 
Spooner, dressed up as a skeleton and 
embarked upon a brief career as one half 

of mildly ribald electro act Relaxed Muscle. 
Which was kind of out there. But it 
taught us a lesson: it always sounds 
like Jarvis. 

The Steve Albini-helmed Further 
Complications'^ abuzz with sparse, 
crudely hewn riffs and droning, primitive 
psych freak outs - but never does your brain 
ever stop cheerily thinking, "Well! This is 
some nice Jarvis Cocker-style art pop." 
The fact is, Cocker has long been his own 
lead instrument, and a garage song featuring 
him drolly screaming (he can do that) 
"She's nearly 23, making £4. 15 an hour, 
complimentary shower" \s not really a 
garage song but a Jarvis Cocker song with 
period furnishings. He achieves a measure 
of synthesis, for sure, with the Glass Candy- 
sampling 'You're In My Eyes (Discosong)' 
and its eight, soft-focus minutes, but that 
doesn't alter the fundamental truth: it 
always sounds like Jarvis. 
Andrzej Lukowski 

Mama, I'm Swollen (Saddle Creek) 

It has a terrible title. It also has Cursive 
re-amping their approach to marrying 
a frenzied rural punk with college-indie 
literalism, and embellishing it with whatever 
punishing, dramatic instrumentation they 
have to hand. It has a terrible title. It also 
has the closing track 'What Have I Done?', 
which sounds exactly like its title. Generally 
speaking, when Cursive aren't beating that 
drum on a personal warpath, they're slowing 
down to tell its stories and make its points. 
Which are: complaints and scorn and regrets. 
Tim Kasher has thought about these things 
he wants to say so much that he has no 
option other than to scream them. It has 
a terrible title. Which - to these ears - 
doesn't appear in the title track.This 
makes you wonder what they were thinking. 
You suspect they had more important things 
on their minds. 
Kieron Gillen 

Dinosaur Jr 

Farm (JagJaguwar) 

The £$£-inspired reunion narrative goes 
something like this: big announcement, 
minor excitement, emotional tour 
culminating in hometown show, triumphant 
festival appearances, ill-advised follow-up 
tour, sudden loss of public interest, 
re-emergence of the unworkable clash 
of egos which ruined it the first time 
around, acrimonious second split. 

No-one expects actual good new 
music, especially not when one member 
(Lou Barlow) relays news that another 
(J Mascis) only communicates through 
his manager. The classic Dinosaur line-up 
is unlikely to recapture the inspired ferocity 
of You're Living All Over Me anytime soon, 
but Farmsees it lulling wonderfully in middle 
age and at mid-pace. Barlow's purposeful 
bass playing and Murph's towering 
cymbals add edge to J's Strat heroics and 
perma-wronged vocals. The bombastic 
'Ocean InTheWay' sounds deliciously close 
to falling over, but Mascis welds in some 
twiddly licks to keep it on course.There's 
far more to remember here than on previous 
release Beyond- stronger playing, better 
choruses, more variation. Best of all, 
Dinosaur sound vital -which doesn't 
make any sense at all. 
Thorn Gibbs 

66 1 plan b 


time immortal 

Words: Abi Bliss 

Illustration: Overture 


Beacons Of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey) 

Now, here's a word association you seldom 
see anywhere outside the pages of Reptile 
Keeper Monthly. Ready? 'Tortoise'. And 'fun'. 

Not being present to hear those synapses 
fizz and sputter, I'm going to substitute them 
with the third track here, 'Northern Something', 
and spend the next two minutes dancing in 
a poor impersonation of its squid-slithering-over- 
woodblocks motion while you attempt to 
process the concept. 

Let's try it out in a few simple sentences. 
The new Tortoise album is good fun. Tortoise 
sound like they're having fun on their new album. 
Tortoise thought a fun title for the record would 
be. . .OK, best not stretch credibility too far. 

Flippancy aside, Beacons Of Ancestorship is 
a heartening return from a band who had seemed 
in danger of vanishing up their own augmented 
ninths after 2004's placid-verging-on-complacent 
It's All Around You. If Millions Now Living Will 
Never Die defined slow growth and wintry beauty 
as a template of sorts for many of the post-rock 
acts that followed, it wasn't necessarily the band's 

own blueprint. Instead, 1998's TNT exchanged 
catharsis and resolution and the romantic sublime 
for a kind of jazzily restless suspension, spinning 
epochs out of anticipation and deferment. That's 
still in evidence on 'The Fall Of Seven Diamonds 
Plus One', where a thousand Ennio Morricone 
tributes are distilled to their essence: guitar 
twangs, clip-clopping hooves and the jangle of 
coins as a lone gunman scans the horizon, waiting. 

Elsewhere, it seems that these masters of 
meta-music have been feasting on the Seventies 
rock leftovers of The Brave And The Bold, their 

Restless suspension 

covers album with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Opener 
'High Class Slim Came Floatin' In' lolls lasciviously 
on a waterbed with a posse of fat-bottomed 
synths, before a hippo-sized bassline bursts 
through the wall and departs on a rampage. 
'Prepare Your Coffin' (now there's a title just 
waiting for Alice Cooper) sounds like a laboratory 
for guitar solos, unravelling the genes of 'Freebird' 
and 'Hotel California' and recombining into new, 
ever-ascending helixes. 

It's not quite a scene of bacchanalian 
abandonment. In particular, 'Gigantes' -whose 
bright chimes and antsy percussion recall Plaid's 
trick of throwing sweetness over density - and 

the fractured guitar/punchy beats combo of 
'Monument Six One Thousand' underline Tortoise's 
affinity with the kind of careful structuring that is 
taken for granted in electronic music, but which 
is treated with suspicion in the realm of 'rock' 
instruments. But then, no-one expects a theme 
park ride to be spontaneous. Enjoy. 

Abi Bliss speaks to Jeff Parker 

Will anything on this record surprise fans? 

" Hopefully, our fans have come to expect a few 
surprises! That said, there is some heavier textural 
activity that people don't normally associate with 
us, and our bass and mallet worlds were invaded 
by electronic waveforms. " 

Do your song titles relate to some external 
source of inspiration, or do they have as much 
relevance as calling tracks '1a' f '1 b' f etc? 

"The titles rarely have any significance 
other than aesthetic pleasure. We like to let 
the listener-observer create their own meanings. 
This ambiguous aspect is one of the greatest 
exploits of making instrumental music." 

What is your own emotional take? 

"We try to use different musical textures 
to colour our music in varying, subtle ways. We 
were never fans of the 'quiet, loud' bag... there are 
emotions in our music, just as there are emotions in 
people, and we are thinking, feeling people." 

Dirty Projectors 

Bitte Orca (Domino) 

An easy confidence permeates this 
otherwise distinctly odd record. Dirty 
Projectors are proving themselves capable, 
in both songwriting and performance, of 
rewarding overwhelming press interest with 
ever greater ingenuity and intrigue - and this 
album is testament to Dave Longstreth's 
wanton talent. His songwriting ethic has 
often been reminiscent of such bandleader 
workhorses as John Darnielle and Phil 
Elvrum, but the Projectors seem now to have 
found a more collaborative process, and, for 

the majority of Bitte Orca, Longstreth is no 
longer the band's centre. Both the discipline 
of the madrigal and the sullen swoon of R&B 
saturate the vocals of Angel Deradoorian and 
Amber Coffman, here joined by Haley Dekle. 
Their voices are supple and versatile, now 
making a single instrument of their tripartite 
cooing and yowling, now dismantling it into 
an impossible arpeggiation that stretches 
the guitar's chordal haze somewhere over 
the horizon. These voices are this record's 
inner logic; they are its loping gait, hungrily 
covering ground. 
Petra Davis 

Flat Earth Society 

Cheer Me, Perverts! (Crammed Discs) 

They say that surrealism is second nature 
to the Flemish. And, hopefully without 
descending into 'look-at-the-weird- 
Europeans' gawking, I suggest that 
this record provides ample evidence. 
The ninth release by this project of Peter 
Vermeersch, a big fish in the Belgian cultural 
establishment, proffers big-band jazz made 
abrasive, carnivalesque, lush and riotously 
and sublimely melodic. It shares some of 
the forceful sensibility- but also the 
humour -of predecessors like Willem 

Breuker and Han Bennink. Within the 
space of six minutes, 'Bad Linen' takes 
in cop-show theme tune flourishes and 
a succession of fine solos - breaking into 
slurs and shrieks - above increasingly 
agitated rhythms and eruptive horn 
choruses; it ends with a loveable, cartoonish 
jingle from the accordion. 'Flatology' 
resembles an Art Blakey LP played at 
78rpm, excepting a tenor sax solo which 
is sumptuously off-kilter with the turbulent 
cauldron of rhythm beneath. The frantic 
changes in tempo and restless activity of 
'Mutt' - its constant ebulliences of snare 

68 1 plan b 


and vibraphone and horn blurts - recall the 
stylistic jump-cuts of cartoon music. Good, 
clean fun. 
Daniel Barrow 

John Foxx and Robin Guthrie 

Mirrorball (Metamatic) 

Sometime last summer I was at a festival 
where no one good was playing. I'd had 
a lot of cloudy cider and I was wandering 
through the stalls of organic babygros and 
hempen tat, wearing stuck-on neon glitter 
fairy wings, squelching through the mud and 
feeling epic hate, when, hark! There was a 
tent staffed by some spiral-eyed beardy guy 
and his beatific girlfriend who looked about 
12.1 went inside and sat in front of a gong 
which they were playing like a microclimate. 
All the evil and skepticism I was feeling was 
stilled.This album works just like that, but, in 
place of the gong showers, we have the title 
track's resonance chamber of drone and 
chant, satellite sounds and pops of breath. 
Songs alternate between the playfulness of 
a Ryuichi Sakamoto solo record from the 
early Eighties to something more textured, 
lush, and becalming. And it's restrained; even 
when the vocals of a song like 'Spectroscope' 
sound like a cross between Peter Murphy and 
some Georgian polyphonic choir, they're 
anchored by a spare piano line. 'Sunshower' 
is straight up goth, but there's no hippie 
flabbiness here. Some of the guitar loops — 
as on 'My Life As An Echo' -sound like 1 983, 
but Mirrorball also has space; spaces where 
Guthrie's guitars ripple like holes in time, 
where the sound has weathered away. 
You can float to this. Let it wash over you 
and unshiver any coating of mossy cynicism 
you may have accumulated. 
Emily Bick 

Franz Ferdinand 

Blood (Domino) 

North London flat. Plan-B-ws Quintin Smith 
and Matt Sheret enter, bearing unseasonal 
icy-sweet Calippos. I gesture at the speakers: 
"Name the band ".They stare and scratch 
and offer a few cursory guesses, none near 
the mark. I tell them it's Franz Ferdinand. 
It's a dub remix of their last album. This 
prompts a debate, because no one knew 
that Franz Ferdinand had split up. Surely we 
can't be stupid enough not to have noticed? 
It's a worryingly long time before we realise 
it means their last album, Tonight: Franz 
Ferdinand, not their last, final album. Which 
is a bit of a shame, because by then we'd 
worked out some lovely eulogies ("They 
were literally a band who released some 
records in the 00s"). The room sits, heads 
bobbing as 'Die On The Floor's core 
elongates into into a beat. Sheret splits 
the silence. "This is shit." Yeah, that bit 
was shit, I argue, but there are some lovely 
atmospheres here, especially as the album 
disappears down a well of dub toward 
the centre. I think it's like that bad dream, 
post-gig, all twisted sheets and memories. 
I don't say it, because I don't want to be 
mocked by my peers, but it's true. Then 
'Ulysses' drops, and everyone sings 
the theme tune to Ulysses 3 1, because 
the Calippos have gone to our heads. 
Kieron Gillen 

Future Of The Left 

Travels With Myself And Another (4AD) 

Where to start? Your best tune, like, ever 
normally does it. Future Of The Left are wily 

cats. With announcing call 'Arming Eritrea', 
they do the lot inside three minutes flat: it's 
got elliptical lyrical references destined for 
cult sing-a-long heaven, actual emotive 
content and some mighty muscular bass 
guitar haymakers that'll knock fringes off. 
We're talking field-of-one stuff here; Future 
Of The Left swing huge testes at your head 
where most compatriots f laccidly flail. 'The 
Hope That House Built' is the lock-in from 
hell, demanding souls sign up to their 
"hopeless cause "; 'Drink Nike' is the 
channelled anger of 1 000 wearied, 
right-thinking minds directed at a world 
with warped motives. Characters pepper 
the narratives, from the hapless (Rick of 
'Arming Eritrea') to the flat-out wacky 
(Reginald J Trottsfield's contribution to 
'Throwing Bricks At Trains'). But, finer points 
aside, it's impossible to eulogise about the 
Cardiff trio without simply updating Mr Steve 
Albini's sage wisdom on main man Andrew 
Falkous' former vehicle, Mclusky: you're 
looking at the best rock band in Britain. 
And Travels With Myself : And Another \s 
the indisputable evidence. 
Adam Anonymous 

The Gossip 

Music For Men (Columbia) 

Since their last album, 2006's Standing In 
The WayOfControlJUe Gossip's lynchpin 
Beth Ditto has plugged herself into an 
entirely different circuit to the Pacific North 
West DIY scene that first nourished her. 
Now that Ditto's a fixture of celeb hangouts 
and the style press, lionised and libelled 
in equal measure for both her size and her 
sexuality, a certain weight of expectation 
surrounds this slick Rick Rubin-produced 
tilt at the mainstream. Play it, and it's easy 
to miss the spiritual power of Movement's 
swampy garage blues; Music For Men is, 
unsurprisingly, a whole lot more light than 
dark, and several tracks, like lead single 
'Heavy Cross', do little more than dance 
the same angular moves that won them 
that major deal in the first place. But, and 
thank goodness, there's more to it than 
that. 'Love Long Distance' is a glowing nub 
of piano-led pop-house redolent of The Juan 
MacLean or even De'Lacy, and 'Men In Love' 
is a giddy boy-meets-boy romance that 
begins the spit of ESG but somehow winds 
up like Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam doing Stevie 
Nicks. That one, needless to say, is worth 
the entry price alone. 
Ben Mechen 


Slow Club 

Yeah So (Moshi Moshi) 

Grizzly Bear 

Veckatimest (Warp) 

I saw Grizzly Bear around two years ago 
in a venue in Leicester that suited them 
poorly. Somehow, though, they transformed 
it- enough to captivate me throughout 
a two-hour set. On record, the Brooklyn- 
based quartet boast a similar metaphysical 
capacity, creating a space all their own. But 
the effect is not always pleasurable: 2006 's 
Yellow House might have been hauntingly 
beautiful, but it wasn't bedtime listening. 
Their 'space' could often feel like a prison, 
its walls formidable.Three years on, here's 
Veckatimest.\NUal's changed? A fair bit, 
going by opening track 'Southern Point': 
it's more bold and more straight-up exciting 
than anything from Yellow House.'Two 
Weeks' is different, too - those thumping 
keys evoke the spirit of (whisper it) a pop 
song - and the pretty refrain at the end of 

For the last coupla years, Slow Club have been a thrilling 
secret, like the coolest, most colourful thing you ever 
hatched from a Kinder Egg. But now, they are most 
definitely a Real Band with a Real Album, showcasing 
everything they're all about perfectly: Rebecca's drums skiff ling off their 
traintracks, Charles' fast, barrel-rolling guitar and that glorious way they 
harmonise, with the intuition of a gospel choir. Everything they do seems 
to be about acceleration and crescendo, even on the slowies (and how ironic, 
for a band called Slow Club, har har, etc.) If they're not rollicking toward 
fat echoes and saw-squalls like on 'Dance 'Til The Morning Light', they're 
nudging slowly, bruisingly toward the heart of the heart of the meaning, 
like in Rebecca's own 'Sorry About The Doom'. And the sheer charm. They're 
masters of that chip-chip-chipping away, of sloughing off that petrification 
around the ankles and the muscles of the mouth, or so I find; back in the 
Union Chapel in December, they got 'em standing like evangelists, belting 
out tunes not everyone was 1 00 per cent sure of - but they were grinning, 
all the same. And, in lieu of even more evangelism, let The Word speak for 
itself: "I definitely want to be a rapper/But I'm just a Northern girl from where 
nothing really happens/And now the bones inside my shins are crumbling/lfs 
from all the crunking I've been doing. " Enchante ! 
Meryl Trussler 

'All We Ask' features handclaps. Like Yellow 
House, though, l/ecto/mesf demands 
patience - 1 feel like I'm being deconstructed, 
cell by cell. It soars high and rumbles low. 
Darren Loucaides 

Tim Hecker 

An Imaginary Country (Kranky) 

For the duration of this disc, it is possible 
to imagine - no, hear- a land that is devoid 
of human life, but all the more alive for it. 
Indeed, when a ghostly chorale of voices 
does enter, partway through 'Utropics', 
we are taken aback, as though these 
silver groans of grief have been beamed 
in from somewhere we no longer know. 
Synthesizers, strings and keys refract 
themselves continuously, until it is no longer 
possible to distinguish one from another. 
Infrequently, a signal makes it through the 
waves; 'Borderlands' reveals wooden 
chimes, and a saturnine organ moans 
throughout 'A Stop At The Chord Cascades'. 
While Hecker's titles are almost humble in 
their self-referentiality- 'Sea Of Pulses', 
'Currents Of Electrostasy' - these pieces are 
always more than such names indicate; more 
than sounds created by happy coincidence. 
Lauren Strain 

Here We Go Magic 

Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl) 

Meet Luke Temple and his four-track, into 
which he fits synth and strum loops and 
self-harmonies and probably large potted 
plants, too - like Mary Poppins' handbag. 
In that case, let's run with it (the analogy, 
not the bag). What else fits in there? 
Well. Super chill funk. Beers. The twitching, 
circling 'Tunnelvision', which sounds like a 
lost track from Animal Collective's Campfire 
Songs. A flat-packed festival. Dodos-style 
percussive folk (the sun-busting 'Only 
Pieces'). Rainforests. Sinuous drones. The 
recording method Temple employs doesn't 
audibly limit him at all; it leaves no trace but 
a summery fuzz that makes itself known at 
the beginnings and ends of songs. And yep, 
this is impressive, for so often it sounds huge, 
choral and crashing, like something sprung 
from roomfuls of friends or family and not 
just this one man. And if Plan #had shouty 
little pop-out boxes telling you what you 
need to hear, it would doubtless contain 
'Fangela', which has that same quality of 

Yeasayer's '2080'. But this is an album's 
album, and it has that unity of expression - 
that unbeatably orange feeling. Here we go, 
global-warmed summer. 
Meryl Trussler 

Shout At The Doner (Tigerbeat6/Very 

With his frantic desire to be jack of all genres, 
Miguel 'Kid606' Depedro turns people 
on and off in equal measure. Shout AtThe 
Doner's title and sleeve art are a dual tribute 
to Motley Crue and post-rave kebabs; they 
suggest that if there's a musical area 
Depedro would like to be disassociated 
from forever, it's the anti-danceability of the 
glitch/soundart/ambient posse. (This tends 
to saddle people who release two albums on 
Mille Plateaux.)This new album - in which 
1 7 tracks utilise the entire capacity of a CD - 
certainly sidesteps arid intellectualism. The 
hyperspeed dementia of his old breakcore 
boshers is yesterday's news, but Depedro's 
taste for neophytic party rave is pretty 
insistent, with grossly wobbling basslines 
a frequent feature. Because he's Kid606, 
he parodies 4hero and samples The Breeders 
and Detroit Grand Pubahs; he titles tracks 
'America's Next Top Modwheel' and 
'Baltimorrow's Parties' because they were 
too long to use as screen names, probably. 
Shout At The Donersees an intelligent 
person doing ^intelligent correctly - 
and it also features that person's best 
tunes for some while. 
Noel Gardner 

David Kitt 

The Nightsaver (Gold Spillin') 

Apt title.This is not merely a record borne 
of the dead of long nights spent wrestling 
with knotted stomachs, but a record intent 
upon dragging in bursts of sunlightto rip 
the gloom asunder. Kitt's last album, Not 
Fade Away, detailed the breakup of his 
happens next. Coupling gentle electronica 
with doleful vocals may not seem so 
startlingly original these days, but The 
Nightsavens compelling and urgent. 
The swirling, rescuing mantra of 'Alone Like 
That' is both heartbreaking and riveting - 
afterwards, you don't know where to look. 
The Corpo 

plan b 1 69 


neural syntheses 

Words: Frances Morgan 
Illustration: Daniel Arcand 

Controlled chaos and beautiful disorder 
in this month's avant-noise soundscapes 

Hecker: Acid In The Style Of David Tudor (Editions Mego) 

John Wiese: Circle Snare (No Fun Productions) 

Maja Ratkje: Cyborgic (The Last Record Company/Rune Grammofon) 

David Tudor's programme notes to a 1 977 
performance of Pulsers, a work for taped violin 
and self-built electronics, state that, "the circuitry 
is self-generating and contains no primary signal 
source." Coming a decade before the first 
algorithmic software, and before Austrian sound 
artist Florian Hecker's first forays into generative 
music in the Nineties, did this gesture seem so much 
more radical than those that had gone before? Or 
was the process of lesser importance to an audience 
captivated by the scuttling sounds? This question 
of understanding the process and perceiving the 
effect of sound, and which is the more important 
knowledge, seems especially pertinent to these 
three releases. They are all stunning. They are all 
complex. Which comes first for you? 

Seven years ago, I went to a Hecker performance 
by accident with a friend of mine, and we knew only 
two things. First, that we didn't really know what he 
was doing, because most of the electronic music we 
knew was synth or sample-based. Second, what he 
was doing patterned our thoughts out into throaty, 
wordless, scared amazement. We agreed that it 
was among the most psychedelic sound we had 
ever heard, in its ability to build an innerterrain; 
in its relentlessness; in the way it fucked with time. 
(Acid, then ketamine, declared my friend, firmly. 
I wrote PIG INSECT in my notebook.) Everything 
we would then read about Hecker's Supercollider 
compositions and his gallery-based sonic art would 
come second to that visceral whorl of this sound, 
both live and few years later on Sun Pandamonium. 

This studio album (Hecker's 
first) feels a little more sedate, 
despite the unmistakable 
vocabulary of tongue-swallowing 
gurgle-glitch and disorienting use 
of stereo. Between the crunching 
hiccups of anti-rhythm, graceful 
high-pitched sequences flutter 
like glass bones. The set-up of 
Buchla synthesiser and analogue 
computer is perhaps responsible 
for the slightly warmer feel, but 
there is no retro-fetishism here: Hecker's electronic 
conversations retain their weird quality of alienation 
and inferiority. Towards the end, unexpected reverb 
sends all sounds flying, sudden outer space opening 
from the inner. A teeth-on-edge stripe of high- 

Small cataclysms that 
feel like audio gunfire 
to the skin 

resonance sound is punctuated with daemonic 
little crunches. When it stops, I miss it. 

Theoretically solid as his work is, it's Hecker's 
ability to imbue his sounds with a knowable 
character that makes /\c/d so compelling. John 
Wiese, operating out of the more DIY environment 
of the US noise scene, provokes a similar response: 
his music has about it the feel of mental or bodily 
processes and a difficult but tangible personality. 

He is also prolific live performer, and Circle Snare 
-which uses tape, drum machine and Max/MSP 
processing - was recorded on a recent European 
tour. It is a bracing listen, tense and determined, 
full of sucking, pulling and rending noises which 
suggest something dragging itself inch by inch 
through a small tissue, to reassemble on the other 
side. The ring of a cymbal or gong glances through 

the scree, but briefly. This kind of fast, flourishing 
processing can be tiresome, but Wiese rides it well, 
and avoids the heavy, easy layering that often 
tempts live noise practitioners, switching sharply 
from sporadic, scaley crackles to small cataclysms 
that feel like audio gunfire to the skin. But is this 
a noise record? Circle Snare is closer in spirit to 
music concrete or the bravura breakcore of Venetian 
Snares. However, it's also comparable to Aaron 
Dilloway's recent (also tape-based) performances. 

It's hard to get a sense of Circle Snare's overall 
shape, for all its peaks and troughs - it may have 
been assembled from a number of shows, but 
it does feel at times lacking in flow. Another live 
recording, from Norwegian vocalist and composer 
Maja Ratkje, is notable in holding the attention 
throughout- unsurprising, given her background 
as an improviser. Cyborgic is a welcome, vinyl-only 
solo release from an artist heard most recently in 
collaboration -with her own band, Spunk, and 
Enslaved spin-off Trinacria. Ratkje is a rare 'noise' 
vocalist in that she depends neither on electronics 
nor extremity, yet uses both to great effect. Trained 
in opera and composition, she also eschews the 
stuffy theatricality of many 'extended' performers. 

Here, her remarkable, crisp voice bowls along, 
gathering fragments of itself as the piece builds to 
chaotic climaxes and descends to hushed glossolalia 
again. Ratkje has an ear for the mouth's uncannier 
noises - burbles and growls and yawps - and 
processes these into busy chatter. The glitchiness 
is interspersed with swooping passages that 
unsettle like distant emergency sirens. Because 
Ratkje uses her voice, perhaps it's easier to map 
imaginative, emotional terrain onto her records, 
but one does feel that there are stories here, and 
it's this narrative quality that makes the fiendish 
complexityof what she does so approachable. That, 
and her sense of fun: there's a segment of glacial 
beauty where her vocals coalesce into a tremulous 
tower made of bird calls, oscillations, metallic jaws. 
Ratkje exploits the top end of the spectrum, not for 
MAXIMUM PAIN but to literally take us to a higher 
place. Then she blows it the fuck apart. And laughs. 

70 1 plan b 


old flames 

Words: Euan Andrews 
Illustration: Patrick Gildersleeves 

Fire On Fire 

The Orchard (Young God) 

Welcome back to the Old, Weird America. Twelve 
years have gone by since Greil Marcus coined that 
mythologised land in his excellent book, Invisible 
Republic. Ostensibly a Dylanologist's dream of 
a tome following Bob and The Band as they 
hewed out The Basement Tapes in a late-Sixties 
Woodstock barn, Invisible Republic cut deeper and 
broader into the history of old American folk songs 
and the almost surreal litany of lawless, outlandish 
characters they documented and were, in turn, 
performed by. 

Over the past decade, we have witnessed 
a seemingly endless amount of variants emerge 
ploughing a 'new' weird America. The sun-fried 
campfire chants for being a hundred miles from 
home brought to us by the likes of Animal 
Collective and Sunburned Hand Of The Man are 
attempts to create new communal legends where 

once there might have been simple songs, passed 
around late night dens. 

Fire On Fire's debut album could almost be seen 
as a modern day version of The Basement Tapes; 
a point of order designed to pull us back from the 
far-out self indulgences of recent years and plant 
our naked feet firmly in the dirt. It's telling that 
Fire On Fire's previous incarnation was as chaotic 
punk-prog collective, Cerberus Shoal. But Cerberus 
Shoal threw away their electric instruments, and 

Exhortations to survive 

now they live as a five-strong commune in a big 
blue house across the road from green oil tank #28 
in Portland, Maine. This might all be a little more 
post-industrial than yesteryear, but still: one has to 
compare it to similar exercises made 40 years back 
by the likes of The Byrds and The Grateful Dead. 

However, Fire On Fire don't sound like an 
academic exercise in heading back to spurious, 
wished-for roots. Frankly, they sound like the 
real shit. The information - that, onstage, the five 
members set up in the old bluegrass tradition, with 

just two basic microphones - merely distracts from 
their power. What's important are the songs, and 
how they are performed. Voices bellow multiple 
harmonies; they congeal into one, backed by 
banjos, accordions, guitars. Lyrically, they veer 
toward age-old threats of apocalypse. The rains 
arrive and never leave. There are exhortations to 
survive, to rise in the morning not sick with worry. 
All five members sing, but the most distinctive 
vocal contribution comes from Colleen Kinsella. 
Through the demented reel of 'Assanine Race', 
where maddening isolation amplifies the simplest 
of problems, Kinsella squeals and yelps like some 
bearded hag on the end of a hangman's rope. 

Ultimately, however, The Orchard is a gestalt 
effort. It's debatable whether even the listener 
needs to be present. Fire On Fire seem so locked 
into their arcane country mindset that all of this 
would be going on anyway, down in that big blue 
house in Maine - and that's what makes it so great, 
like peering into a shuttered room or basement to 
find the wildest, bitterest hoedown careering out 
of control within. That it exists today, and is 
happening right now, is enough. 


Malefeasance (Aurora Borealis) 

From Set Sothis Nox La and his expanding 
band of unmerry pranksters: loosely 
conceptual, Bataille-drenched, ethno- 
black-metal soundscaping.This is self- 
consciously serious stuff, following less- 
travelled paths; but it's perhaps not keen for 
you to follow them. At least it covers a lot of 
ground along the way- the first track alone 
features almost new-agey synths, gibbering, 
invocations, twittering birds and militaristic 
folksong. 'Hitori Bon Odori' gets all 
Spaghetti Western on our rosy behinds, with 
vast guitar strums, pocket-watch melodies, 
mariachi funeral drums and a super-macho 
meditative "om "chant. As 'A Burned Village' 
and 'From A Miserable Abode' unsheath their 
black-metal blades, blunted by post-ambient 

fuzz, things get a little grimmer. The final 
act brings industrial motifs, lycanthrope 
howls, shoegaze bliss and a wind-scarred 
acoustic guitar figure. Malefeasance is 
undeniably impressive stuff in a lofty and 
portentous kind of way- but its dour 
evocations of spiritual vastness make it 
somewhat unapproachable. 
Matt Evans 

The Low Anthem 

Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Bell 

These West Coast types glide in on a 
wave of spiralling harmonies and hymnal 
deconstruction. 'To Ohio' hints at some 
'album-as-a-journey' intentions; but the 
brash stomp of 'The Horizon IsA Beltway' 
puts paid to that. As scuzzy and abrasive 

as the former was expansive, the song 
is perfectly illustrative of The Low Anthem's 
central flaw: that they have precisely 
two types of songs, and one of them isn't 
particularly good. To wit: the ragged take 
on Tom Waits' Kerouac-lifted 'Home I'll 
Never Be' sees Ben Knox Miller swap ghostly 
falsetto for throaty, affected wail. All this 
time spent plumbing long-plundered staples 
of Americana with little grace and less 
imagination; it's entirely perplexing, 
especially in light of what the band are 
clearly capable of. 
James Skinner 

Magnolia Electric Co 

Josephine (Secretly Canadian) 

There's no intimacy quite like the 
too-closeness you feel watching Jason 

Molina sing. His voice is enough -solid like 
cedar, with a hollowed-out hideout where 
he anxiously harbours the truth. But it's also 
his demeanour-there's a demure "thank 
you very kindly" after each song. And both 
the voice and the persona always translate 
to wax in full, whether for Songs:Ohia or 
Magnolia Electric Co. 

Molina has often figured relationships 
as physical spaces in which we court, bait 
and spear each other, as animals would; 
as arenas from which, once we have entered, 
we cannot ever truly escape. While Josephine 
is lighter, windier and more carefree in tone 
than much of Molina's output, the story 
remains the same: "Oh, "he moans on' 
An Arrow In The Gale', watching her leave; 
"Which one of us is free, Josephine? " 
Lauren Strain 

plan b 1 71 





no more poison 

Words: Lauren Strain 
Illustration: Gemma Correll 

Little Boots 

Hands (679) 

The one thing they never tell you about the club 
is how lonely it is. It's the charade that does it, the 
whole ritual of the girly night out-the preening 
in each other's bathrooms, the swapping of pots 
of colour and oil, the offy-bought wine; everything 
the opposite of what's happening on the inside, 
of how you'll look when you emerge, eyes sliding 
to the left, barrettes catching in your scalp, hoping 
you'll get home unharrassed while panickedly 
checking that no one on the 3am bus is spending 
more time looking at you than they should be 
doing. There's an innocence to it, sure - the 
dressing-up box, the Cinderella moment, the 
genuine thrill as you walk through the door and 
slant into another world. But there's such sadness 
in it, too - most everyone in a club is so deep in love 
or hate that they behave like caricatures, dressed 
up to be anything other than themselves. The best 
pop music puts me right back in those places; 
because the best pop is an enfeebling clash of 

ecstasy and shattering paranoia. The best pop 
is not happy. 

And Little Boots - 24-year-old Victoria Hesketh, 
from Blackpool - has a knack for writing songs 
that conjure all of the above. 'Remedy' is blood-red 
and pewter, its rough blocks of synth ripping apart 
and leaving gaping holes; into the trenches rise fat 
wells of gloopy noise, roaring from herTenori-on. 
'Ghosts' whisks candy-keen laser beams into 
muted froths, Hesketh bleating above like a 
white-eyed andromeda: "You don't even know 

So deep in love or hate 

that I'm here; it's true, you walk right through me. " 
There's the sanguine, numb hum of 'Symmetry', 
its woollen wads of processed purr throbbing 
indifferently. This pop is vixenish, violent; this pop 
is not happy. But there are two reasons I like this 
record. That was the first. Here's the second. 

Hesketh is a new breed of pop star; not 
untouchable, she's just a girl who likes shoes 
and make-up and used to be in a rubbish Leeds 
band called Dead Disco. But, in a world where the 
media's favourite topic is itself, our generation now 
knows better than ever how to play it. And if Little 

Boots is the nouveau riche of the music world - 
the Plain Jane prepping herself for stardom from 
her bedroom - that's OK; 'cause although her rise 
has been swift, the control seems to have been 
almost firmly within her own hands. And if Hands 
is the product of youth pitched to the information 
superhighway, then its songs demonstrate the 
extremes of behaviour that can induce, from 
the dead-eyed neuroticism of 'Meddle' to the 
streamlined, crystalline feeling of infinity that 
most of these tracks possess - a sheen given to 
them by nothing else than the position of being a 
2 1st Century Westerner with unlimited technology 
at her fingertips. And if a definition of 'pop' as we 
understand it today might be that it allows us to 
envision our fantasies as we would never dream 
of living them, we're now approaching a new 
frontier - where those fantasies can be made real 
with the click of a few buttons and a canny eye. 
And whatever our struggling economy, the 
mutation of technology and our dwindling 
individual morality might be doing to the music 
'industry', the only fundamental was, is, and 
will always be, our imagination. With it, there 
is nothing in this world that cannot be used to 
our advantage. 

Major Lazer 

Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do 

I sent noted trend-vector Diplo a tweet 
about this, his new project (with shuffle 
house/MIA producer Switch). It read 'Major 
Lazer sounds like a sex-fight in an iron lung'. 
He didn't pass comment. I don't blame 
him - 1 can do better with 1 40 characters: 
'Major Lazer is dancehall flying business 
class all day every day, synthlines arcing 
cross-border from dirt floor to horizon'. 
'Major Lazer throws respected Jamaican 
MCs into a weightless CGI cartoon, 
slowing the builds, blowing the scale into 
architecture'. 'Major Lazer unfolds beats 
like knots in a net, dubs houseward, joins 

the dots between beach pop and hi-gloss, 
world tour hip-hop'. 'Major Lazer autotunes 
a baby's cry, staggers like an army marching 
drunk, ain't afraid of no Eurodance FX\ 
'Major Lazer is dance music born for the mix, 
is inhuman, rhizomatic, post-whatever- and 
Major Lazer has left the island'. 

Meat Puppets 

Sewn Together (Megaforce) 

While you're doing your endlessly annoying 
thing of complaining about reunions like it's 
somehow your business, the rest of us can 
celebrate the fact that Meat Puppets aren't 
(literally) dead, and have, more pertinently, 
waltzed back with a fine album. There is a 

lot of mandolin on it, which has the 
perfectly agreeable effect of eking out 
their country-rock leanings; it also helps to 
emphasise that, in parts, this album sounds 
a bit like Eighties REM, which, as influence/ 
influenced conundrums go, really puts the 
chicken among the omelette. All meaning 
that Sewn Togetheris a milder pepper than 
the ones these old men served up as young 
men, when their label SST was one of the 
most important in rock music. Does this 
make the whole thing a waste of time? Heck, 
no! How impudent. Singer Curt Kirkwood 
cheerfully informs us that his Puppets can, 
finally, make another cheap and easy record 
without label hassle - and he proves it via an 
album of classic-if-heavily-tilted songwriting 

that should satisfy many without any 
contractual obligation. 
Noel Gardner 

Malcolm Middleton 

Waxing Gibbous (Full Time Hobby) 

Malcolm Middleton excels at sketches. For 
close to 1 5 years, fragments of his life have 
bubbled through speakers, an autobiography 
with gossamer-thin production and little 
to hide behind. He does not speak in 
abstractions. His lyrics can be specific to the 
point of alienation: one love song includes a 
tender "every day I check for a superpower ", 
while a song about escaping a tour fixates 
upon a worn pair of travelling socks. His 
words mean nothing to those who do 

72 | plan b 



Cream Cuts (Smalltown Supersound) 

Three years in the making, this is the third LP from 
San Fran's Tussle. If you were feeling snippy, you might 
say that that's a long old time to take recording a bunch 
* of drum solos. But Tussle have released a wedge of interim 
products in between - and, in any case, that'd be an overly harsh judgement 
of a pretty skill album. Tussle still have a bunch of self-evident love for Liquid 
Liquid and the rest of those early-Eighties cowbelling funky-drummer Mudd 
Club types; additionally, Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip is somewhere amid 
penultimate track 'Titan', possibly offering 'extreme percussion' (it says 
here). Not totally sure that Tussle couldn't have managed without him - 
but, y'know, if they're happy. The whole is produced by Thorn Monahan, 
known as a desk jockey for Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Silver 
Jews and some other bands of this vague bracket- which is mentioned 
only to curveball ya by saying that he has TOTALLY failed to turn Tussle 
into a literate, psychedelic folk-rock band, and has, instead, overseen 
nine tracks of awesomely engineered, cavern-dwelling percussive 
workouts. The only thing stopping me telling you this would be great 
for an 'alternative aerobics' class - some twat has probably already 
started one of these - is that you might have to be hella mashed on 
something illegal, and you won't catch Plan B encouraging people to 
break the law, no sir. 
Noel Gardner 

nothing, which is often mistaken for 
miserablism: yes, there are sad songs, but 
they are presented with some beautifully 
selected backing vocalists (King Creosote 
andThePictish Trail join the usual cast) and 
there's never a sense of crushing isolation. 
Matthew Sheret 

Ooodipooomn (Pickled Egg) 

The gumbo of influences and references 
which permeates Ooodipooomn suffuses 
it with an almost naive joy in its own 
existence. Adventurous and elliptical - 
rather than merely eccentric - Ooodipooomn 
revolves around the core Now trio and a 
parade of guests who buzz vibrantly through 
sensational moments where a shuddering, 
analogue synth boogie-morphs into avant 
skronk'n'roll.The six-minute motorway chug 
of 'Hiway Code' seems more like a whole 
road trip thanks to its sheer busyness, while 
the spacious sprawl of 'Yellow TentT-Shirt' 
and the brazen churn of 'Ethnik Snack' both 
coalesce into wildly divergent epics. Now 
continue to demonstrate that the tireless 
heart of their being is something close to 
an unsung national treasure. 
Richard Fontenoy 

Odd Nosdam 

TIME Soundtrack (Anticon) 

It's difficult not to picture landscapes 
while listening to this, the soundtrack to 
a skateboarding film composed by post- 
hop sound sculptor and cLOUDDEAD 
founder David Madson. But it's not an array 
of concrete staircases and iron railings that's 
brought to mind; rather, undulating, train- 
window scenery. A kraut backbeat drives 
'We Bad Apples' beneath vinyl crackles and 
whooshing, near-silent holes. Only 'TIME In' 
and 'Cop Crush' sound like they truly belong 
in skate city, their groovy glitches segueing 
into rare moments of bass-heavy muscle 
flexing. There's a hint of Lemon Jelly's 
distasteful politeness on 'Fly Mode', but 
it's quickly subsumed by the fluid wash 
of 'Ethereal Slap' and the scruffy, lolloping 
beats of 'Wig Smasher'. TIMEhouses a rich, 
varied mix of moods, masterfully realised and 
edited. I just can't imagine watching footage 
of baggy-jeaned guys falling over to it. 
Thorn Gibbs 



It's tempting to treat Iggy Pop as a man 
who is above criticism. After all, punk 
rock's wiriest and happiest ambassador has 
done enough for music in his 62 years to be 
considered a hero in this and any other life 
he may lead -which is presumably why he's 
decided to make a one-part jazz, two-parts 
soft rock and three-parts ageing crooner/ 
mid-life crisis record. Perhaps those recently 
banned insurance adverts have turned Iggy's 
brain to mush. Or perhaps his appearance 
with Tom Waits in Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film 
Coffee And Cigarettes made him want to 
have a bash at the kind of tunes that other 
time-haggard troubadour is famous for. 
Duly, 'A Machine For Loving' is (sort of) pure 
Waits: a softly spoken, gruffly delivered story 
about a dead dog. The only difference is that 
it's horrible to listen to. It's icky, and makes 
me shiver in a bad way - as does opening 
track 'Les Feuilles Mortes', which is sung in 
French. It's madness. But he's still amazing. 
Tom Howard 

The Present 

The Way We Are (LOAF) 

When you're reading the names of classical 
composers (La Monte Young, Shostakovich, 
Debussy) alongside those of such electronica 
stalwarts as Can, Eno and Aphex Twin, it's 
difficult not to expect gross indulgence - 
and disappointment, on a correspondingly 
grand scale. But The Way We Are, the second 
album from New York's The Present, is guilty 
of no such failings. In fact, it's probably better 
than last year's debut, World I See, which 
came with well-deserved plaudits from both 
Gang Gang Dance and Panda Bear, whose 
Person Pitch album -like Animal Collective's 
SungTongs-was produced by The Present's 
Rusty Santos. 

Yet while the Collective took a hook- 
laden direction on their recent, triumphant 
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Santos has 
elected to stick with abstract, evocative 
soundscapes. But if the influences of Eno 
and Can are rather more tangible than those 
of Shostakovich or Aphex, minimalist legend 
La Monte Young certainly shines through in 
the drone-laden 32 minutes of this album's 
epic title track. 
Marcus O'Dair 

eft tfttrres f (gune %009*\ 

\[ 'Sensational... A star 
in the making.' 
The Sunday Times 


Startlingly good. 

.i speechdebellemusic 


plan b 1 73 


my kingdom come 

Words: Hayley Avron 

Illustration: Nao 

Tara Jane O'Neil 

A Ways Away (K) 

Outside and slightly to the left of me, cars graze 
the concrete, the noise of their ravaged engines 
ballooning to the sky, getting lost in the leaves. 
Upstairs and slightly to the right, there is a new 
music under construction, warping the floorboards 
and walls, bothering next door's stay-at-home 
residents. Beneath my feet, rowdy customers 
cackle as they line up a bunch of overpriced cans 
on the counter, banging the door as they leave, 
careless, senseless and half-cut. 

I hear none of it. I am cocooned. 

As Tara Jane O'Neil wavers her way through 
'Howl', the song becomes an all-consuming 
being, worming its way to the centre of myself 
and spinning itself about my minor existence. It 
leaves no gaps through which I can hear or judge 
the world outside of its silky mesh. The fact that 
music can do this, all on its own, without back- 

story, without media intervention, without 
a daily feed of information, misinformation or 
hi-res gloss bolstering/obliterating its meaning. . . 
this had slowly become all but lost on me. No press 
release, no album artwork flagging up signif iers 
or references. Just the music. 

A Ways Away is just that: a ways away. Ever so 
slightly out of reach and ethereal. From its opening 
bars, her guitar on full reverb, it's so haunting that 

Out of reach 
and ethereal 

you find yourself reaching for the lightswitch in 
broad daylight. Like music for a slow-moving film, 
it forms its story before a single word is uttered. 
The vocals are somehow both wispy and warming: 
O'Neil's voice is cushioned, like that of Mary Lorson 
or Hope Sandoval - natural and warm. 

The dreamy quality of the album, though, is 
reigned in by the structure of the songs. It would 
be easy for the contents of A Ways A way to curdle 
into a trail of electronic drone and constructed 
sound. But O'Neil is a skilful songwriter, and she 

does not allow her songs the freedom of 
wandering too far from the path laid carefully 

As relaxation and inertia begin to take hold, 
a new phase commences. 

A brief silence, between songs, is like an icy 
blastto the skull. 

'Biwa' conjures images of a church interior, 
empty, with the sun clouding through expansive, 
stained glass windows. Perhaps her artistry is 
being channelled through the music, but A Ways 
Away is somehow incredibly visual, even when 
words are absent. 

I know next to nothing about Tara Jane O'Neil. 
I'm aware that she is an artist, delicate and revered. 
I know she has a past, a biography, a discography 
and a portfolio. But they're not things I have delved 
into. It's pretty safe to assume that, at some point 
in the future, I will have a skim-read, cast a glance 
over some web pages, make a purchase, take in 
some information to later shelve and even later 
forget, make more judgements, pass them on. 

For now, though, contentment rests steadfast 
in my lap, spinning unconsciously in a CD drive. 

Riceboy Sleeps 

Riceboy Sleeps (Parlophone) 

Riceboy Sleeps, a collaboration between 
Sigur Ros' Jon bor Birgisson and his 
boyfriend, was first an art project which 
only later became musical. And even 
if you didn't know that this started out 
as a Sigur Ros side project, you'd soon 
draw a clear correlation: these are huge, 
sweeping soundscapes in two-chord, 
glowingTechnicolour, with angelic 
chorals and an indescribable pagan 
melancholy that must be born of the 
blindest faith to sound at once so sad 
and so damn redemptive. Less narrative 
than Sigur Ros, here there are echoes of 
breath, the sounds of bodies and rain. 
But criticism is based on arbitrary, 
circumstantial subjectivity. I was lying on 

the couch, and I said that it sounded like 
an orchestra tuning up. I said it would be 
better if we were stoned. Wondered, aloud, 
if you could fuck to it. No, I then said: you'd 
zoom off into some zone, far away from the 
proceedings at hand. 

And then, later, which is now, I put 
Riceboy on the headphones and zoomed. 
It was beautiful. It is beautiful. Soft. Footfall, 
raindrop, little inhalation. From now on, 
Riceboy - whoever he is - sleeps with me. 
Sleeps. You know what I mean. 
Jesse Darlin' 

One Foot In 

If kids today ask their parents, "What did 
you do in the rave?", then this album could 
serve them well for an instant primer. 

Condensing a whole epoch into one album, 
the ever-extreme Shitmat rinses out the 
sounds of an underground which passed 
its sell-by date and then returned like 
the shambling, reanimated corpse of a 
generation pickled in MDMA. As Shitmat 
dubs up the breakbeats, it's almost like 
dance music never moved on. 

Except it did, and Shitmat is here 
to celebrate its revivification and 
regurgitation via the simple method 
of hypermodern compression. Every trope 
of the form is thrown headlong into the mix, 
sampled and looped, from happy hardcore 
shape-making and chipmunktimestretching 
to low-end junglist switchback rides into 
outer bass and polyrhythmic perversity. 
Pass the aciiieeeed! 
Richard Fontenoy 

The Soundcarners 

Harmonium (Melodic) 

Chris Dedrick from The Free Design loves 
it, apparently. This may not be the world's 
greatest endorsement, since I kind of get the 
feeling that there aren't many things people 
from The Free Design couldn't find love for. 
I wouldn't be surprised if some long-lost 
recordings of theirs turn up with candyfloss 
harmonies ba-da-bopping about roadkill 
and flesh-eating bacteria. But here, Dedrick's 
love is beyond justified: this record is a 
gloopy, sticky, compulsive melt of all that 
was sweet and swoonsome about the 
past decade's retro pick'n'mix of sounds. 

While you can hear bits of The Free 
Design's vocal glide, jazz flute and Steve 
Reich train rhythms, Harmonium mostly 
involves a peanut butter and chocolate 

74 1 plan b 

mash-up of the two great Nineties tastes 
that, weirdly, taste great together: Stereolab 
circa Dots And Loops and shoegaze of the 
Ride/Chapterhouse school. They come 
together on 'Glide' and the brilliant 
'Uncertainty', where the chug-chug 
be-bopping shears off into tidepools 
of waterlogged wah and delay and even 
a bit of 'No Quarter'-era Led Zeppelin. 

There's also a hint of that weird 
moment of Nineties obsession with 
Elephant's Memory-style psych and Karen 
Carpenter's saccharine sadness: songs like 
'Calling Me' and 'Without Sound' sing with 
wistful orchestration and have a downy, 
sedative quality- like looking at a field 
of soft-focus dandelion clocks through 
a watered-down glass of Tab. 
Emily Bick 

Being the most suffocatingly intense band 
in the world is clearly not enough for Sunn 
0))). No, they insist on gathering Eyvind 
Kang, Dylan Carlson, Julian Priesterand 
others, on referencing Miles Davis and 
Alice Coltrane and evolving right out of their 
robes. Each of these four tracks is a standout 
in its own right. 'Aghartha' splinters beneath 
its own mass, as chords fall like slabs of meat 
upon cold tiles. Attila Csihar intones at the 
speed of granite, while Namoric horns 
summon behemoths. The astonishing 
'Big Church' interweaves the divine and 
the diabolical, and a seraphic choir led by 
Jessika Kenney wards off hellish grinding 
to genuinely theologically terrifying effect. 
Unusually direct and rocking, 'Hunting 
And Gathering (Cydonia)' rides a gnarly 
riff redolent of 'Boris'-era Melvins. 
But 'Alice', the most explicitly 
Kangy piece, is the apex. Rising swells 
of brass and electronics puncture prairie 
chimes, and its overwhelming climax is, quite 
unfeasibly, like emerging from a barbed 
nightmare into a field of fragrant orchids. 
Brutal, evocative, horrifying and beautiful, 
Monoliths And ' Dimensions \s the sound of 
Sunn 0))) obliterating expectations. 
Matt Evans 

Sunset Rubdown 

Dragonslayer (JagJaguwar) 

The astonishing thing about Spencer 
Krug's output over the last few years - with 
various groups - is less its sheer volume and 
more the enviable creativity and craft that 
goes into every release. Krug, along with 
a few other brave (mostly Canadian) souls, 
has done away with the concept of the 
indulgent indie side-project. Rather, each 
of the records he is involved in is given its 
own attention and time; an opportunity 
to bask in the spotlight. 

While the last album for Sunset 
Rubdown, Random Spirit Lover, was a dense 
construction of sounds, often seeming as 
much a cerebral party album as a rock record, 
Dragonslayerteels much more like there's 
a band in your room. In this case, the process 
of reining in pays dividends. The songs, most 
notably the evocative melodrama of 'You 
Go On Ahead' and the rousing chant of 
'Black Swan', showcase Krug's pop at its 
purest and most open-hearted. Another 
highlight comes in the form of 'Paper Lace', 
which is a re-imagining of a song Krug 
originally wrote for Swan Lake's Enemy 

Mine and which sees a sombre track 
transformed into a flowing dance number. 
Chris Lo 

Tiny Masters Of Today 

Skeletons (Mute) 

Brother and sister Ivan and Ada are 1 5 and 
1 3 years old respectively. But now: wipe that 
information from your mind. Their second 
release deserves to be judged not on the 
ages of its creators, but on its brilliant hooks, 
shattering pop melodies and focused sound. 
Having recently discovered the wonders of 
Animal Collective, Lupe Fiasco and Riot Grrrl, 
these tiny masters show off their new found 
experimental edge with garage punk, 
sassy call-outs and fast-paced beat-pop, 
aided by star guests from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 
The Blues Explosion, Butthole Surfers, 
The B-52s and Kimya Dawson. Layering 
sounds and mixing beats, Skeletons is well- 
constructed and developed. It bursts with 
a joyful exuberance; barely any of these 
songs hit the three-minute mark, so things 
never get complacent.This is proof that 
every teenager should access GarageBand; 
if kids are the future of music, we're in very 
safe hands. 

Kitsune MaisonVlkThe Lucky One 

Hey, hipster! It's lucky number seven for 
the Kitsune Maison series, and, yes, it works. 
You'll be sold once the remix of La Roux's 
'In for the Kill' - by Lifelike - pops onto your, 
oh, say, iPod Touch, each sighed "Oooh- 
ooh "sliding from your headphones down 
your shoulders. Then, or when they drop 
Chateau Marmont's 'Beagle', the imagined 
soundtrack to all those retro wireframe 
arcade machines installed in your favourite 
dive bar. Of course, you already know what 
to expect: a seamlessly sequenced collection 
of very good electro, another lovely snapshot 
of the state of Kitsune's expanding friends 
list. But there isn't any urgencyto it. 
The label's stable acts fill the floor with 
flashes of neon glamour; they rely on 
turntables, vodka mixers and uppers to 
shine.This compilation will backdrop Lower 
East Side loft parties 'til number eight drops 
- after which it'll probably sit quiet. 
Matthew Sheret 

The Wave Machines 

Wave If You're F 

Who needs to worry about turmoil and 
crises when you can make bouncy electro 
pop to dance to all summer long? Liverpool's 
Wave Machines inject a big dose of fun and 
insouciance into every track on this, their 
debut record. Synths soar and sparkle one 
minute, then segue into toy instrument 
discos the next. Dancefloors have already 
erupted with the infectiousness of 'I Go I Go 
I Go', its tin drums making wayforwhite boy 
disco keys - it's a wonder that advertisers 
haven't latched onto ityet.The calypso 
socialism of 'I Joined A Union' channels the 
spirit of Stereolab (using falsettos instead 
of husky French crooning). Wave If You're 
Really There is disco for non-disco kids, made 
by four masked lads who sound like they've 
dreamed of the spotlight from within their 
bedrooms for years. Best of all, this is done 
without a hint of irony or self-consciousness. 
Alex Goffey 

i Pimm m-j, nnn.B 

British Sea 



Man Of Aran 

(Rough Trade) 

M .. .iii Aidii 

In which the indie 

ruralists provide 

a new soundtrack to 1 934 docu-fiction 
film Man Of Aran, a depiction of men and 
women struggling to exist on a barren 
rock.This score adds shades of hope. (CL) 

Ryan Driver 

Feeler Of Pure 
Joy (Fire) 

Timing is key. This 
might be country folk 
balladry by blueprint, 
but Driver's eyes-closed vocals always 
touch down at just the right moment. (DL) 


The Mammoth 
Sessions (Fire) 

Teresa Maldonado's 
voice is husky, 
half-broken, weighted with sex and 
agony. This is some collection of real 
low-slung, deathly country songs laid 
bare and left raw. (HA) 

God Help 
The Girl 

God HelpThe Girl 
(Rough Trade) 

After five years of 
writing music that 
wasn't quite right for Belle And Sebastian, 
Stuart Murdoch called in nine guest 
vocalists and a 45-piece orchestra. The 
lawlessness of this project, however, 
leaves little room for charm. (LW) 

Ellen Mary 

The Crescent Sun 

Beguiling debut from 
Notts-bred, London- 
based singer whose 1 fluid, folk-inspired 
compositions show both a steady melodic 
craft and an instinctive joy in song. Lyrically, 
McGee is at turns fanciful and realistic, 
navigating her sometimes shy words 
with a gorgeously mobile and thoroughly 
English voice. (FM) 

Guido Mob i us 

(Karaoke Kalk) 

This stalwart Berlin 
producer eschews 
the clean lines 
of his minimalist compatriots in favour 
of whistles, parps and loping beats, and 
tricksy, boingy electronica. Spliced vocals 
from various sources are an infectious 
highlight, especially when accompanied 
by mutant funk horns on 'Sssplitter'. (FM) 



Flight Paths (How 
Does It Feel To 
Be Loved?) 

Harking back to 
Sarah Records' 
halcyon days, these 1 1 tracks aren't fey 
or twee, just sweet pop gems about 
"the platforms of the Central line to the 
beaches of a South coast town ". (AG) 

brief notes 

Sad Day 
For Puppets 

Unknown Colours 
(Sonic Cathedral) 

It's an old trick, but 
it's an effective one - 
marrying the sturm und drang of big, noisy 
guitars with dripping, ethereal loveliness, 
that is. True to its label's form, this album 
is a little bit C86 and a little bit Jesus And 
Mary Chain, with the breathless, little girl 
vocals of The Sundays floating over the 
sort of jaunty, fuzzed-out pop that failed 
to make Shop Assistants orThe Revolving 
Paint Dream famous. An absolutely 
charming record. (FF) 

ttfflLflAx (Soul Jazz) 

*ir yF** , y^ Miningthesame 

seam as Padded Cell 
orthe Dissident label, 
Subway turn in nine chromed cuts of 
kraut-influenced techno. Subway II 
wears its equipment on its sleeve too: 
the Rolands, Korgs and Moogs get equal 
billing with the track titles. Gearheads 
aside, though, this is probably more 
a grower than a shower. (BM) 

3 Vessels 

With this collection of 
B-sides and remixes, 
listeners are invited 
to venture further into the intricately 
structured architecture of its makers; 
Leeds-based post-rock outfitVessels. 
Their scope is rather dulled by the fiddlings 
of the various remixers here (including 
Errors, Brendon Anderregg and the 
band's own Lee J Malcolm), but plenty 
of great moments remain for fans and 
completists alike. (CL) 

We Are Wolves 

Total Magique 
(Dare To Care) 

I This is a party record 
written by three dudes 
from Montreal -and 
it is totally fucking awesome. It's 
simultaneously old-school and nu-school, 
involving lots of arty post-punk sung by a 
hybrid ofThe Blood Brothers' and Late Of 
The Pier's vocalists. It kicks all of the ass, 
over and over again. (TH) 

White Denim 

Fits (Full 
Time Hobby) 

White Denim's 
second LP for Full 
Time Hobby may veer 
from rock'n'roll to soul -with frequent 
stops in psych country and funky town - 
but the songs are tied together by the 
band's brittle guitar attack.They pack an 
impressive ideas-per-minute count, too; 
even the album's quieter moments seem 
breathless in anticipation of the next 
wave breaking. (CL) 

Brief notes by: Hayley Avron, 
Fiona Fletcher, Alex Goffey, Tom 
Howard, Chris Lo, Darren Loucaides, 
Ben Mechen, Frances Morgan and 

plan b 1 75 

1, 1 , y ^ii 

I g >/^ < V | f 


I i n i i i i ' ; ' ) 


the deep blue 

Words: Shane Moritz 
Illustration: Marcus Oakley 


Generic/Gone Fishin'/Public Flipper Limited (Domino) 

"It's life! Life! Life is the only thing worth 
living for! "champions a marble-mouthed 
Will Shatter on 1 982 's Generic Flipper, a debut 
littered with fucked-up truths so profoundly 
self-evident in their simplicity that they were 
often mistaken for stupidity. These songs were 
actually smart bombs, nine in total, ready to 
explode like the band members themselves. 
It's any wonder they survived, and, truth 
be told, a lot of them didn't. Three bassists 
succumbed to heroin, including lyrical lynchpin 
Shatter in 1 987. (Man, if ever a name was 
predicated on demise...) 

Hailing from Frisco, Flipper were a band 
of outsiders peddling a buoyant sludge, singing 
messy melodies that made you think a lot and 
drink even more. The goofy moniker set them 
apart, which was half the point. The other half 
was so their singer could remember who they 
were (Ricky Williams apparently had all kinds 
of pets and they were all named Flipper). 
In the end, it didn't matter: Ricky kept ODing, 
and had to go. Ricky got replaced by Bruce 
Lose (later Loose), a Dada devotee who 
was imbibing free acid at Grateful Dead 
concerts from the age of 13. Lose would join 
this motley crew consisting of a Vietnam vet 
named Ted Falconi, who lived in his van, and 
an unstoppable drummer named Steve DePace. 
Lose would trade bullhorn basslines and vocal 
duties with Mr Shatter. Prior to releasing their 
landmark debut, Flipper sold out some seven- 
inch pressings with offensive cover art. 

76 1 plan b 

Generic skids between hilariously acidic, 
existential noise rockers (a la The Monks' 
Black Monk Time) to dirt-laden dirges 
reminiscent of The Stooges' slow-core creep. 
'Ever' rocks out to the Dostoyevsky-approved 
theme of blissed-out loserdom. "Ever do 
nothing and gain nothing from it?IEverfeel 
stupid and then know that you really are?!" 
Lose wonders, while Falconi roughs up 
some big chords. By the song's end, Lose 
has implicated himself, warranting nothing 
more than a shrug: "SO WHAT?!" 

and of outside., 
ddling buoyant 

Elsewhere, 'Shed No Tears' cuts loose 
like a fatalistic Van Halen on the skids. 
Just audible in the background of the hiss- 
crackle and drone pop of 'That's The Way 
Of The World' is an army of future Guided By 
Voices guitarists, scribbling notes inside Ohio 
sweatshops and preparing for underground 
takeover in ten years' time. Nerds! 

The horniest cut, 'Sex Bomb', is actually 
repellent sexually, giving credence to the belief 
stated in the sleevenotes that Flipper were 
a band "to fail to have sexto". Nevertheless, 
it's a momentous beer-swilling party track, all 

eight minutes of it, with apocalyptic sax fills 
shattering mirror balls from Frisco to Miami. 

After the intense squalor of the debut, 
Flipper cleaned up - or at least it sounds 
like it -for 1984's Gone Fish in', an album so 
confusingly smooth that you'd be forgiven 
for thinking they'd spent the last two years 
bathing in lavender oil (couldn't be farther 
from the truth, really). 'First The Heart' drips 
alto sax so creamy you can't help but revel in 
it, particularly when DePace is giving us such 
inspirational stick-work as this. The first part 
of the record actually sounds like Falconi went 
for a coffee and got lost. Xylophones, cymbals 
awash with reverb and sprinkles of jazz piano 
dominate this echo-laden album. But rest 
assured that, by the time Shatter launches 
into his amusing discourse on the Johnny 
Thunders' rhythm method (Talk Is Cheap'), 
Falconi's guitar has awoken, strutting in like 
a Noo Yawk'heartbreaker'. Extra points to 
DePace for encouraging some severe air- 
drumming. Closer 'One By One' articulates 
oppression so confidently that the band has 
the testicular fortitude to add congas to the 
mix. It's a left-field classic. 

After the relative sheen of Gone Fishin', 
Public Flipper Limited is a reminder of how 
hog-wild insane these guys could be live. 
They use the pause between songs to 
hector the crowd for drugs. Time-efficient, 
if nothing else. 

Flipper wrote the new rules that there are 
no rules. This review has one rule. Basically: 
Flipper rules, OK? 

album reissues 

skin and bone 

Words: Louis Pattison 
Illustration: Jussi Brightmore 

MB/Maurizio Bianchi 

Technology 1&2 (AtWarWith False Noise) 

Science fiction author VernorVinge thinks 
humanity has 2 1 years left. Not until we perish 
in a mushroom cloud, our innards whizzed up 
like soup by Pandemic X - although, of course, he 
concedes that's a possibility. Actually, Vinge thinks 
it's 2 1 years until we use technology to transcend 
our earthly forms, shedding flesh and bone and 
beaming up our souls to the ether; souls cast like 
flickering holograms between distant nodes. 

Until then, though, we're stuck down here 
in all this smoke and clamour, trying to force Rod 
A into Socket B and dodging the shrapnel when 
things go wrong. The world is an ugly, messy 
place, and so, by design, was the work of Maurizio 
Bianchi. A noise musician - although he preferred 
the word 'de-composer' -from Milan, Bianchi 
was extraordinarily prolific, turning out a great 
swathe of material between 1 979 and 1 984. 
The last few years have seen a wealth of Bianchi 
reissues, but there's more to come; this re-release 
of Technology 1 &2, a 1 981 cassette set, marks 
the first in a projected series of over a dozen CD 
releases of Bianchi's tapes courtesy of Scotland's 
At War With False Noise. 

"Inspired by the modern inhuman 
technologic system," reads Technology's liner 
notes - and this is not starry-eyed futurism talking. 
Bianchi's noise was born out of disgust, a reaction 
against a society he regarded as increasingly 
superficial and conformist. An early rumour linked 
him with the Brigate Rosse, a leftist terrorist group 
similarto Germany's Baader Meinhof. Bianchi 
would deny it, but that the rumour sounded 
plausible spoke volumes. 

Instead, his legacy is inexorably intertwined 
with the history of UK industrial. Notoriously, some 

Mired in the dust and 
ash of this world 

early tapes Bianchi sent to William Bennett of 
Whitehouse for release on Bennett's Come 
Org label were dubbed with Nazi speeches and 
released under the name Leibstandarte SS MB 
(this is what passed for a practical joke in early 
Eighties industrial culture). If that puts you off - 
and well it might-fine; but Bianchi's music bears 
little of the provocative intent, the urge to appal, 
that seemed a motive for many of his peers. 

Instead, here, we have sound that is abrasive 
and mechanical, but also pensive, sombre, 
and deeply emotional. Bianchi described it 
as "distressed existentialism", and if it sounds 
like machines developing a glimmer of sentience, 

it is just enough to anticipate their own 
imminent obsolescence. 

Working with a set of early synths - Technology 
uses a Roland TR-33, a Roland SH-1 000 and a 
Korg MS20 - Bianchi's modus operandi was taking 
"loops, scratches, noises [and] crumbling them 
until to be unrecognisable from the originals. . .a 
sort of defragmentation of usual music into several 
atoms of unusual non-music". The result is a 
sound richer than that of his power electronics 
contemporaries, and more layered. On the first 
disc, solemn cathedral organ revolves sadly from 
within ghostly, flickering sheets of noise before 
degrading further into shimmering static and 
strange, aquatic drones. The second disc is more 
abstract still, all generator drones and mangled 
rhythmic loops that pre-empted Bianchi's 
next release - and the LP largely hailed as his 
masterpiece - 1 981 's Symphony For A Genocide. 

Two years later, Bianchi had packed in 
'de-composition' altogether to become a Jehovah's 
Witness, before returning in 1 998 with a string 
of prettier but less challenging releases. His early 
records, though, still sound like nothing less than 
the language of what would later be gentrified and 
tagged as 'noise' taking shape before your ears. 
His real innovation, though, was not one of sonics, 
but of spirit; Technology sounds mired in the 
dust and ash of this world, but, crucially, dreaming 
of a better one. 

Wake Up And Smell The Carcass 

The collages of medical photography that 
made up Carcass' early album covers were 
banned for their obscenity. Twenty years on, 
you can find the same kind of imagery used 
in cigarette health warnings. Even within 
their short career, Carcass lost their initial 
shock and moved on. This CD/DVD of rarities 
spans their whole existence in counter- 
chronological order. While the record begins 
with tracks from their more catchy, melodic 

work, we're soon deep within the 250bpm 
blitzkrieg and snarled medical terminology 
of their early EPs. Carcass, even in these off- 
cuts and like Slayer before them, still manage 
to retain that arresting visceral presence; 
something familiarity has not yet eroded. 
Patrick Moran 


Magic And Return (Editions Mego) 

The pieces that make up Magic Sound and 
Return (here packaged as a double CD set, 
Magic And Return) were recorded during 

Christian Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke and 
Peter Rehberg's occasional globetrotting 
jaunts in the late Nineties, when slipping 
a Powerbook's-worth of samples into a 
backpack was still a novelty. In them, the 
trio sound like they're thoroughly enjoying 
letting flurries of samples loose - and 
they indulge in this chaotic interplay 
while lined up like a lecture circuit team 
delivering a seminar on the nuances of 
digital improvisation. 

The records are assembled from cut-and- 
pasted elements, glockenspiels rolling into 

push-me-pull-you pianos and synths 
chattering around steam-powered 
oscillating devices. Squitters of affected 
noise, flickering drilling sounds and the 
filtered stutter of percussive loops dissipate 
into timestretched, orchestral quagmires; 
pianos are run through a mincer and 
processed. The three apply these sounds 
judiciously, and Magic And Return is 
ultimately satisfying because of the distance 
O'Rourke, Fennesz and Rehberg shifted from 
the sometimes arid computer music studio. 
Richard Fontenoy 

plan b 1 77 

album reissues 

love, love alone 

Wo rd s : E ve re tt Tr u e 

Illustration: John Cei Douglas 

Blind Blake And The Royal Victoria 

Bahamian Songs (Megaphone) 

It's the voice. 

Blind Blake had a voice that was warm and 
soothing, with a slight burr from sipping on too 
much gin and coconut water- like that of M Ward 
at its most fractured and sentimental. It sounds 
so knowledgeable, so full of life's hidden subtleties 
and humour. At my favourite moment-the 
chant-song The Cigar Song', wherein Blind Blake 
compares various society hangouts via the simple 
technique of contrasting the cost of smokes and 
the quality of liquor - his voice sounds on the verge 
of laughter; it's the way it's so easy and free across 
the mildest of calypso beats. Yet it never spoils. 
On 'John B Sail' -the original of 'Sloop John B', 
the sailors all disreputable and sodden in the 
warm sunshine - it soothes and smoothes amid 
gentle yet raucous harmony. Think The Ink Spots 
or Joseph Spence (or those ace Honest Jon's 
compilations, London Belongs To Me), only with 
West Indian rhythms. On 'Peas And Rice' - nearly 
the Bahamian National Anthem, which originated 

in World War I to document the shortage of 
imported cooking fats -he's Mr Welcome itself. 
Don't go getting the impression this is Jim Crow 
minstrel fare, though. Blind Blake is anything 
but self-conscious or overdone. 

Blind Blake shouldn't be confused with the 
finger-picking bluesmanofthe same name. He 
was, indeed, blind - born in 1 91 5, he lost his sight 
at 1 6, supposedly from staring at the sun for too 
long. His preferred instrument was the banjo, but 
he was also adept at the ukulele, tenor banjo, 
guitar and piano, having started on a piece of 

Full of life's hidden 
subtleties and humour 

wood with a string stretched across it. He was 
born in Matthew Town, Inagua, Bahamas -and, 
after serving in the armed forces in World War II, 
was discovered playing for pennies in the seaport 
of downtown Nassau, where he was offered a 
job, first at the Imperial hotel and later the Royal 
Victoria. It was there he played for heads of state, 
including JFK, and performed one of his most 
renowned songs, the rhythmically intricate 'Love, 
Love Alone', written for the love affair that led to 
the abdication of King Edward VIII. It received a 
standing ovation from the royal party. 

His songs had a bewilderingly loose swing 
and lilt, and they are both tricky enough to bear 
up to countless listens and simple enough to make 
my four-year-old beam with pleasure whenever 
he hears one begin. On the Goombay numbers 
'Run Come See Jerusalem' and 'JP Morgan', which 
swing as sweet and riotous as Louis Jordan, his 
voice is showcased in full colour. 'Jones (Oh Jones)' 
is as close as you could get to full-scale rap in the 
Fifties, and typical of his wry, black humour: "I'm 
going to kill you dead and bury you/Dig you up for 
fun. . . Chop you through and through/I'm going to 
chop you into pieces just big enough for stew/And 
when I get through, everybody's gonna moan, 
'Jones, Oh Jones. . . '" And let's not forget 
'Watermelons Spoilin' On The Vine', OK? 

In the world of Blind Blake (which lasted 
until the Eighties, when he was still playing for 
tourists arriving at Nassau International Airport), 
politics equals dance equals colonialism 
equals culture equals entertainment equals 
human life equals everything. This is jazz mixed 
in with a smattering of popular US crooning and 
West Indies folksong (Harry Belafonte was an 
obvious fan). This is jazz, easy to digest, but 
wonderfully redolent. This is jazz, more swing 
than jazz, and more calypso then swing anyhow. 
This is plain wonderful. 

Holly Golightly 

Painted On (Damaged Goods) 
Up The Empire (Damaged Goods) 
Down Gina's At 3 (Damaged Goods) 

A trio of discs from the Nineties garage 
days, revisited for UK release at last. Painted 
On is the studio record, wherein Golightly 
re-materialises her pared-back Brokeoffs 
identity with Lawyer Dave. Golightly 
steers her particular lo-fi take on a diverse 
Americana through blues, country and 
twangy R&B, sounding all the better for the 
rough and ready production. Likewise, the 
live albums- Up The Empire and Down 
Gina's At 3- scramble through crowd 

chatter and murkiness with a beguiling 
combination of energy and poise. 
Richard Fontenoy 

Bert Jansch 

LA Turnaround (Charisma) 

Santa Barbara Honeymoon (Charisma) 

A Rare Conundrum (Charisma) 

Despite being faithful to the rich melodies 
of his American counterparts, Bert Jansch has 
always managed to keep his music curiously 
English, his placid, subtle compositions 
married to a beautifully plaintive voice. At its 
best, his work surpasses most in the British 
folk canon. LA Turnarounds a particularly 

curious blend of Jansch's quintessential^ 
British delivery with West Coast slide 
guitar, the record, appropriately, recorded 
in both Sussex and Los Angeles. Santa 
Barbara Honeymoon is more Americanised - 
recorded with a Dixieland band in the States, 
it brings Jansch's pop sensibilites to the 
fore. A Rare Conundrum, meanwhile, sees 
Jansch on more familiar, contemplative 
and traditional territory. While none of these 
albums have the consistency of Jansch's best 
Sixties records, each remains an interesting 
and occasionally beautiful snapshot of a very 
particular era. 
Sam Lewis 

John Martyn 

Solid Air: Deluxe Edition (Island) 

It's difficult not to think of The Smiths' 
'Paint AVulgar Picture' when considering 
this release. Quickly, though, any negative 
thoughts concerning record company 
executives reissuing and repackaging their 
dead star's material - with extra tracks and 
a tacky badge - recede, as the bonus CD 
of this deluxe edition more than proves its 
worth. Intimate out-takes and live recordings 
add further depth to Martyn's peerless 
originals. Among the extras, we find a 
glorious, Rhodes-heavy version of 'Don't 
Want To Know', an even more dreamy 

78 1 plan b 

album reissues 




Panama! II: Latin Sounds, Cumbia Tropical And Calypso Funk 
On The Isthmus 1967-1977 (Soundway) 

As championed recently by DJ/rupture, latterday 
(dancehallish) cumbia seems set to be the next out-there 
exotica added into the international megamix. To insert 
a family tree for today's feverish styles, Soundway sent their finest reps 
to Panama, where the imported labour force working on the famed canal 
created a seed culture which cross bred Latin and Caribbean musics for 
ludicrously affirmative songs that bustle like a carnival squeezing single-file 
up a staircase. Super-saturated blares of saxophone and accordion, riotous 
crowd chants and debonair guitars overlay rhythm sections that sift complex 
shapes around the bottom end. And, although every number sounds like 
unsimplif ied fun, the lyrics sprawl as widely - and dive as deeply - as 
soul would, Stateside. Certainly, the full-blooded love songs represented 
here would be just as at home in the moonlight as the midday heat ("If you 're 
not going to love me/I'm going to die"). So, for Af rocuban trombones, los 
nenespsicodelicos, tributes to hermosas mujeres, salomas (which Graham 
Greene called 'barking'), feuds between campesinos, musicians with 
nicknames like 'the scorpion' and 'the stylist' and brassy refusals to take the 
fall for a frame-job, start here. Ultimately, it's not archaeology or sociology or 
musicology but raw life, miraculously preserved and now resurrected. Yes. 

version of 'Go Down Easy' and a funked-up 
take on 'Dreams By The Sea'. Yes, this is 
somewhat indulgent- but why not? 
Stuart Aitken 


Jardin Au Fou (Bureau-B) 

It's krautrock, but perhaps not quite as 
you know it.This solo record by the former 
Cluster member and all-round German 
ambient-avant whizz, Hans-Joachim 
Roedelius, was first released in 1 979. 
Produced by Peter Baumann of Tangerine 
Dream, Jardin Au Fou translates as 'Garden 
Of Fools'. It's an apt description for these 
bucolic vignettes, yet there is nothing foolish 
about this record. Utilising keyboards, with 
splashes of guitar and cello, Roedelius rushes 
us through fountains of colour and delight. 
This is chamber music for awakening to on 
a beautiful spring day; you can hear the 
carnival in full flow. 
Euan Andrews 

Saint Etienne 

Foxbase Alpha: Deluxe (Universal) 
Continental: Deluxe (Universal) 

Something old and something old, yet 
new. The previously Japan-only Continental 
sounds like it is: a collection of offcuts 
with little of the aesthetic coherence 
Saint Etienne thrived upon. There's all 
the dreamy romanticism and casual pop 
experimentation you'd expect; but it just 
doesn't feel like an album. Conversely, 
Foxbase Alpha is a classic from the second 
its playful, burbled sample is interrupted by 
the biggest, friendliest, saddest beat of 1 990 
- as 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' breaks 
yours. It's a portrait of a band confidently 
setting forth their aesthetic universe, 
reimagining a London in the heart of Europe, 
positing the Sixties as the 2060s. For the 
completists, Foxbase Alpha's second CD 
allows you to marvel at two things; that 
they thought sampling ancient arcade racer 
Chase HQwas a good idea, and that, in fact, 
it actually was. 
Kieron Gillen 

Black Rio II: ( 
1971-1980 (Strut) 

If you wanna recreate the disco scenes from 
City Of God (without the humiliation of 

stripping off or shooting anyone), then get 
on this now. Digging deeper than the more 
figurehead-heavy Volume I 'into the one-offs 
and short-lived bands who were part of 
Brazil's soul-funksceneofthe Seventies, this 
compilation works best as a dead-end rather 
kind of crate-digging saddo to actually 
chase up all of the names here - crucially, 
you don't need to, 'cos this is a fat little 
bundle of goodness stuffed with all the 
delicious funk/samba mastablastaz you 
could ever need. For sheer textural bliss 
much of this is hard to beat, precisely 'cos of 
the mix 'tween slick-as-fuck band workouts, 
lumpen analogue synth and ruff'n'ready 
recording -these bands are on the one and 
ludicrously tight. However, the ever-present 
air of frantic danger that seethes between 
players, listeners and groove speaks of a 
Brazil outside the studio, outsidelhe party, 
that's tearing itself apart - much of this stuff 
was recorded during the twin-totalitarian 
regimes of Generals Medici and Geisel. 
Neil Kulkarni 

Monty Python's Flying Circus 
(de Wolfe Music Library) 

Monty Python s Flying Circus fust aired 
in 1 969. Twenty or so years previously, 
the infant Pythons were born into a 
freshly post-war Britain, proud and brittle, 
groaning beneath the weight of its own 
pomp, incalculably damaged but soldiering 
on with an optimism that seems surreal now. 
It was all fragile propaganda and tally-ho, 
despite the poverty and the abjection and 
the confusion. Python comedy played on 
this: the seriousness of circumstance was 
tempered with a thread of pure entropy, the 
chaotic principle threatening the keep-calm- 
and-carry-on. These compositions are pretty 
-Wagneresque, even. Marching drums, 
bombastic brasses, sidling strings. They 
behave exactly as nostalgic neo-classical 
militaria ought to - but, heard in context, 
it's impossible not to hear the creeping 
subversion in every note.There's no slide 
trombone slapstick here; the Python 
soundtrack played the role of straight man 
while all else went to hell, to the moon, or up 
the great arse of the hole in the war-from 
whence the violent Python magic was born. 
Jesse Darlin' 




- * 


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wtrw.itibTi Touno m :>** at.coh 









Malcolm Miadleton 

Waxing Gibbous 







«i*w rn.ili allium if dU'liui cci.uh / wwvi fulllimrhcibby-xa.ijk 

plan b 1 79 



ahead of schedule 

Words: George Taylor 

Conceiving a radical new web 
fiction, with Muumuu House 

'Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to 
be experienced' -Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher 

" i have urges to not check my email for a week 
so that when i/finally check it i can feel at least 
a minute or a minute/and a half of extreme 
excitement/i have gotten adrenaline rushes 
from situations like finding/eight new emails" 
-gmail by Brandon Scott Gorrell, poet 

A new breed of online fiction writing has emerged 
in the last few years, a fiction where the flashing 
cursor has replaced the tapped pencil, and instead 
of bouncing a tennis ball across the room to prompt 
inspiration, writers click refresh on the pages of 
social networking sites and their Gmail accounts. 

Open up yr own laptop and point yr browser 
towards, a (mostly) 
online press that specialises in excerpts from 
exchanges on Twitter accounts and complete 
transcripts of Google Chats. In his 1 990 essay 
'E Unibus Pluram', the late David Foster Wallace 
suggested that contemporary writers' ironic usage 
of television and mass media in their work was an 
act of self-righteous snobbery. 

Nineteen years later, and the laptop has 
replaced the television set as a locus for eye rot. 
I ask Muumuu House owner and editor Tao Lin 
why the internet occurs so much in the pieces that 
he publishes. 

"I view everything as what it is, either interesting 
or not interesting," he says. "Since so many things 
happen on the internet, and almost everything 
that happens on the internet is conveyed through 
words, and publishing is related to words, it seems 

80 1 plan b 

Ellen Kennedy 

natural that Muumuu House would get content 
from the internet. It is like Homer getting content 
from people telling stories, or something." 

A 25-year old writer based in Brooklyn, 
Lin founded Muumuu House last year after 
making $1 2,000 from selling shares in his 
next novel, signing over 60% of all future profits 
and earning himself a short interview spot on 
Chris Evans' BBC Radio 2 show-an appearance 
that earnt Lin the somewhat dubious honour 
of being deemed "the coolest guest we've 
ever had" by the host. The novel, which will 
be his sixth book, is due, investors hope, in 
early 2010. 

In addition to the content on the website, 
Muumuu House has published two books of 
poetry. Lin, though, is keen to not have Muumuu 

'Getting content from the 
internet is like Homer getting 
content from people telling 
stories, or something' 

House's digital and material content viewed 
as separate entities. "Other than concrete things 
like a computer being harder to carry around, 
and the internet not always being available, 
I feel no difference between 'online writing' and 
'in print writing'. Ideally I would like everything 
that is online to also be in a book, so I can carry 
it places, and read it laying upside down in 
bed easily." 

20-year old Ellen Kennedy's Sometimes 
My Heart Pushes My Ribs is a gorgeous collection 
dealing with awkwardness, sex, fragility, affection 
and prosaic flights of fantasy in which Woody 
Allen is 'outed' and a lost manatee orbits Earth. 
The other title is Brandon ScottGorrell'sDar/ngA/Zy 
Nervous Breakdown I Want A Biographer Present, 
which the author withdrew from a guarantee with 

another publisher in orderto be on Lin's press. 
He states that the decision "was based mostly 
on my assumptions that Muumuu House 
could better help me reach my target audience, 
increase sales, and 'open doors' for me in 
the future." 

Both works are written in what Gorrell 
agrees is a kind of Muumuu 'house style' - clipped, 
declarative sentences, often containing a single 
clause. There is little interrogation or rhetoric, 
and an absence of metaphor. "I use these kinds 
of sentences because, I think, I want to be concise 
and accurate," he writes. "I do not like reading 
'long-winded' prose/poetry." 

Directness aside, the accumulated effect of 
reading what are essentially lists of events and 
emotions in Gorrell and Kennedy's writing, as 

well as that of their peers Zachary 
German and Noah Cicero (whose 
2003 book The Human War could 
be claimed as the first example 
of this style), is a sense of triumph 
for the neutral rendering of those 
thoughts that plague and worry 
all of us who are faced with trying 
to find meaning in the everyday, 
and keep coming up short. 
"The Earth behaves like a severely depressed 
and detached human," says Lin. "It just doesn't 
do anything, only what the physical laws of the 
universe tell it to do, which seems funny to me.' 
For a growing number of young writers of fiction, 
you could replace 'the Earth' with 'the internet', 
and 'the physical laws of the universe' with 'young 
writers of fiction'." 

For Muumuu House, this is good news, believes 
Lin. "In my brain I feel that I could name five to ten 
writers that I feel 'a strong affinity' toward', " he 
says. "I would like to see more new faces. Whenever 
one of us finds someone who writes or thinks like 
us, to some degree, I feel that there is happiness 
and excitement, at least in myself." 

my life in scribbles 

Words: Meryl Trussler 

Crave another reason to sit in front of 
your computer? Try these webcomics 

Sure, it's all sunshine and cherry blossoms now, but 
remember the winter, when extracting some feeling 
of beauty about the world was like trying to salvage 
a wedding cake that fell on the pavement? On those 
locked-in days you don't always need £10. 99's 
worth of DVD, or £1 7.99 of lush graphic novel: just 
an internet connection. A hot drink, maybe. Go. 

The webcomic form brings with it a certain 
amount of disinhibition - the art doesn't have to 
be breathtaking, the plot doesn't have to move 
publishers to tears. Just because this internet dealie 
is the opposite of Luddism, doesn't mean it can't 
be totally, rip-roaringly DIY. 

Their characters are bug-eyed, dough-bodied, 
rubbery-kinetic. It's the converse to the "uncanny 
valley" theory of CGI; howthecartoonish style 
of these comics makes for wholly realistic little 
humans. But that's not a slight against the art: the 
gorgeous Anders Loves Maria by Rene Engstrom is 
a-bristle with pastel shades, thick grasses and dark 
dance clubs. Since 2006, Engstrom has been telling 
the story of her title characters, full of soap opera 
elements of fighting, drugs, and lots of sex, but 
done with such charm that it never grates, only 
enthrals. As it proceeds, instalment by painstaking 
instalment (is this how it felt in the days of serialised 
Dickens?), the plot's roots are uncovered in 
flashbacks, taking pause to endear these Moomin- 
faced Swedes to us before rolling on towards the 
story's conclusion. Get on the bandwagon while 
you can still experience it live, and fall into love. 

Like Engstrom's comic, Box Brown's Bellen! 
looked a bit different at its '06 conception, and has 
evolved alongside Brown's artistic skills and muses. 
From a sketchy format of boyfriend, Ben, being 

episodically cheered up by the unfailing sweetness 
of girlfriend, Ellen, it's delved deeper into the mind 
behind Ben's brushmark eyes, each page awash 
with blocks of colour and existentialism in pretty 
typography. Another boon of the webcomic 
process; it's volatile. It maps progress. Brown has 
a book out - called Love Is A Peculiar Type Of Thing, 
if you're interested - but such lovely paper stuff is 
complementary, not superlative. 

Finally, Meredith Gran's Octopus Pie, which 
best illustrates that aforementioned principle of 
gingerbready shapes embodying humanity better 
than any crosshatched crotch-bulge in spandex. 
The main character, Eve Ning is a bemused 
Brooklynite with a wacky flatmate, rickety 
lovelife, exasperating job, etc. But it departs 
from such Friends-Isms when you get to the 

They draw, upload and 
suddenly find their 
place in the world 

Nings' Supermarket Sweep fanaticism, or the epic 
laser-tag battle between Eve's Chinese friends and 
her flatmate Hanna's stoner crowd. And man can 
Meredith Gran draw movement. She draws jumps 
that your calf muscles twitch to imitate. That's good 
comic artfor you. 

A pox on those who say the web is killing print 
media. Just go to a comics convention and observe 
the happy mutualism. The only difference is that 
these authors need wait for no one. They draw, 
upload and suddenly find their place in the world. 
And anything that poses as social glue between 
DIY punks and computer nerds can only be a good 
thing. Imagine the children. 

Dub Echoes 

Bruno Natal, 75mins (Soul Jazz) 

Lee 'Scratch' Perry loves water. Without it you would 
stink, and your mouth would get dry. " I was a fish 
before I was a human being," concludes Perry -one 
of several charming moments in this documentary 
about the history and impact of dub. 

Beginning in Jamaica in the Forties and spanning 
to the present day, the film's ostensible aims are 
to describe the development of dub, both formally 
and culturally, and to reclaim its foundational status 
in modern dance music. 

The documentary's definition of dub is an 
umbrella aesthetic that includes reggae and dancehall, 
and while it never discusses what specifies them, 
instead it attempts to explain the music's important 
innovations. A snappy opening sequence establishes 
an impressive range of interviewees: original icons 
like Bunny Lee, King Jammy, and Lee Perry appear 
alongside journalists and later UK-based perpetrators 
like Don Letts, Congo Natty, Mad Professor, Roots 
Manuva and Kode9. 

The story is told from two directions. There is 
a chronological narrative from the evolution of 
soundsystems in the Forties - first through the growth 
of studios likeTubby's, Perry's and Studio One, then 
via the UK as a sales outlet (the place where punks 
got turned on to the political message), and finally 
through to jungle, dance and out to the rest of the 
world. At the same time, though, the documentary 
also tries to subdivide into an formal analysis of 
core concepts like riddim, bass, dubwise, versioning, 

teleologies are key pieces of knowledge for the 
newcomer: how single riddims - like Dennis Bovell's 
on Althea and Donna's 'Uptown Top Ranking' - can 
reappear every decade as a major hit covered by a 
different artist; how in the Seventies, most releases 
had a dub B-side that people would play first; and 
how versioning functioned as a precursor to sampling. 

There's also some emphasis on the contributions 
of individuals: Tubby, the dub originator, buying broken 
machines from America which he would fix himself; 
Lee Perry harnessing the versatility of the form; U-Roy 
pioneering toasting. Other winning moments are 
Bunny Lee describing a filter thatTubby built as 'the 
skwawky', stories about Lee Perry putting a mic in 
a garbage pan and recording cows, Roots Manuva 
predicting the discovery of a bass frequency that can 
heal pain, and Bunny Lee burping. Perry also describes 
giving up the cocktail of ganja and rum that fuelled his 
early recordings because he realised his influence on 
his fans: "I repent and I start clean again," he explains, 
and the result is "super clean music, crystal clean." 

Such organisational ambivalence means that the 
narratives feel somewhat diluted. The second section, 
where it opens into other genres and across the globe 
to describe dub's metaphorical 'echo', lacks the sense 
of climax the argument deserves. But Dub Echoes is a 
lively introduction for the general public, and the funny 
footage will be a worthy highlight for the initiated. 
Melissa Bradshaw 

plan b 1 81 

the final revenge of. 

Interview: kicking_k 
Photography: Aylin Giingor 


0K f so clearly you have memorised (at least) 
one piece of ridiculous hyperbole regarding 
yrself . Please quote your favourite here. 

"I always liked Mia Clarke's line about Careless 
Talk Costs Lives: 'It'll take years for Everett and Steve 
[Gullick] to realise what they achieved'. I'm always 
very down on whatever I'm doing at any given 
point because that's how I motivate myself. I'm crap. 
I need to do better. Balance the above with a friend's 
recent comment that I'm the 'most self-obsessed 
and least self-aware' person she's ever known." 

What is the biggest misconception about you? 

"That I enjoy all the attention still being given to 
a persona that I created 20 years ago. " 

The most over-used adjective(s) about what 
you do? 

"I'm supposed to be arrogant. I'm supposed to 
be inspirational. I'm supposed to be famous." 

What word never gets used that should? 


What concept or detail is always missed? 

"That often I know what I'm talking about. . .for 
example, Australian music critics were up in arms 
last year because I pointed out that free music titles 
don't need to be in thrall to their advertisers, that 
it's possible to take a pride in the magazine you 
create, that it's possible to view criticism as art 
as architecting. Back came the cry: Totally naive, 
he doesn't understand the reality of the situation'. 
Yes I fucking do. I totally understand that you're all 
too scared or lazy or otherwise occupied to address 
the situation." 

What was the most heinous lie you ever told in 
an interview? Were there any repercussions? 

"Jennifer Finch [L7] beat me up in a back alley 
in LA after I reported on how her band liked to 
masturbate in the shower - and I'm not even 
sure that was a lie. I conducted an interview with 
Teenage Fanclub that was so dull that in the finished 

article I had Norman Blake reciting the British Rail 
timetable instead. I claimed Courtney Love had 
talent. . .the repercussions are still being felt. " 

What was your worst interview experience? 

"Worst interview, hands down, was with Ice Cube - 
conducted at the height of Riot Grrrl, and starting 
with me questioning him about misogyny in his 
lyrics. Or, same era, myself and Melody Maker critic 
Sally Margaret Joy talking to PJ Harvey and agreeing 
beforehand that we shouldn't mention the 'f ' word, 
particularly in the context of her posing nude for 
the NME the week before. First minute in, I'm like, 
'so Polly. . .you don't consider yourself a feminist 
then?' Her PR claimed that she suffered a nervous 
breakdown the day after (the entire incident 
inspired a Hole song). There was an inebriated 


escapade with New Model Army where the singer - 
quite rightly - took me to task for my drunkenness. 
'I'd never drink before I got on stage, that's totally 
unprofessional,' quoth he. 'Maybe that's why you're 
so fucking boring,' quoth I." 

Do you think yr music criticism ever helped 
improve anyone's work? 

"I wish." 

If you were to do all this over, and be a music 
magazine editor again, who would you feature 
and why? Who would you put on the cover? 

"Any band that kicking_k recommends. Man, that 
dude rocks some when it comes to tapping into 
my tastes -Micachu, Dirty Projectors, Prinzhorn 
Dance School, Italians Do It Better, Mitten. . . " 

What do you do when a band you don't like 
cite you as an influence? 


Do you ever Google yourself? What's the 
weirdest experience resulting from this? 

"I have a Google Alert set up, that seems to have 
stopped working since The Guardian and Village 
Voice cancelled my blogs in the same week. I've 
featured in some fairly insane fan/slasher fiction - 
in a three-way with Brian Molko, a sexual tryst 
with Blur. I particularly enjoyed the 20,000-word 
dissertation that was centred around my exploits 
at MM. I hope the student passed ! " 

What's yr favourite of the 'media projects' 
you've been involved in and why? 

"Without a shadow of a doubt, Careless Talk Costs 
Lives and Plan B- seriously, I feel humbled that so 
many inspirational, creative people chose to work 
with me. What does it say about me? FUC KING DIY 
RULES MY ASS! I also enjoy performing onstage 
as 'The Legend ! ', for the same reasons. " 

What brilliant (at the time) ideas regarding 
'direction' or presentation or whatever are you 
now glad you never followed? 

"Big 'Al' McGee wanted to turn me into the Mary 
Chain minutes before the Mary Chain themselves 
came along... I'm glad that never worked out." 

Are there any territories where you've never 
had any success? Where? 

" No one knows who lam, anywhere. " 

What's the most actually fairly insane thing 
a reader has done to get yr attention? 

"Sleep with me." 

What's the worst question you've ever been 
asked? What was your answer? 

"'So what was Kurt Cobain actually, y'know, urn, 
like!' My answer: 'Why don't you ask someone 
who actually, y'know, um,/cnewhim?'" 

82 | plan b 

covermount CD 

plan b presents: 

a taste of 2009's end 

of the road festival 

Words: Anne Hollowday 
Alena Diane photo: Cat Stevens 

Some tracks to whistle on 
your way to this year's End 
Of The Road Festival 

Fleet Foxes 

Mykonos (Bella Union) 

Last year's band d'annee eases you in 
gently, right? From the depths of lesser- 
known early EP 'Sun Giant', 'Mykonos' 
exudes a brooding, pensive might while 
retaining the dainty hippy prowess of the 
Seattle five piece's' other output. No Club 
1 8-30's in sight. We promise. 

Alela Diane 

White As Diamonds (Names) 

There's something about Diane's translucent 
vocals, the lumbering melodies, the strings 
stained by ancient wisdom that's resolutely 
escapist and yet, concurrently, beautifully 
stimulating. Revel in the tizz. 

The Low Anthem 

To Ohio (Bella Union) 

Emerging from Providence, Rhode Island, 
The Low Anthem whisper husky, pollen- 
choked croons about, well, what else? 
America, duh -this is train-rolling, booze- 
toting Americana at its groggy best, after all. 

The Acorn 

Flood (Bella Union) 

Wavering tenaciously atop handclaps, drums 
and percussion, Rolf Klausener's vocals skip 
and dart like bounding eager rabbits chasing 
after a carrot truck on Watership Down. 
But it's an acerbic, precarious marriage as 
he charts tales of "seven-headed serpents " 
that "hiss soliloquies " and baby boys forcing 
you to drink "from the dead. "Tweecore 
never sounded so dark. 

Songs: Ohia 

I've Been Riding With The Ghost 
(Secretly Canadian) 

Welcome to the dark end of Americana. Our 
guide is Songs: Ohia - aka singer-songwriter 
Jason Molina, who you may know through 
his guise of Magnolia Electric Co. Molina not 
only rides with spirits, but issues noises that 
any self-respecting haunted house would 
rightly hanker after. 

Bob Lind 

Elusive Butterfly (World Pacific) 

Following that weird foray, we return to 
simple pleasures- Bob Lind's quaint, 
measured tune that sticks to basic metaphor. 
Butterfly = love, don'tcha know? Lind's 
heyday was back in the Sixties and he's 
best known for this global chart hit so 
it's possible "the bright elusive butterfly" 
he's not sure of pursuing is also the promise 
of musical success. But to be honest we 
couldn't care less cos this is, as tradition 
dictates, lovely. 

Okkervil River 

Lost Coastlines (Jagjaguwar) 

In which theTexan six-piece sing a jaunty, 
typically epic, tune about losing their way. 
Don't be swayed, we're right on track. 

Dent May And His Magnificent 

You Can't Force A Dance Party 
(Paw Tracks) 

Discovered by Animal Collective as they 
recorded Merriweather Post Pavilion 
and subsequently signed to their Paw 
Tracks label, Dent May personifies dandy 
anachronism. A vintage crooner attired in 
Fifties garb and thick-rimmed bold glasses, 
here Dent goes about attempting to revive 
the party. Hear it and you'll probably want 
to join him. 

Neko Case 

People Got A Lotta Nerve (ANTI) 

Neko Case contributes to North American 
supergroupThe New Pornographers, 
famously refused to pose nude for Playboy 
and is fiercely protective of her creative 
processes. Here, the mardy woman 
reveals her penchant for human flesh 
in this charmingly offbeat number: "I'm 
a man man man man man man eater, " 
she sings. Not to be confused with a 
certain Ms Furtado. 

Mumford And Sons 

The Cave (Chess Club) 

Although you'd be forgiven for reckoning 
Mumford and Sons are a bunch of hillbilly 
straggly bearded hobos from Folkville, 
USA, take our word: they've got you fooled. 
Residing in London, theirs is a nu-jaunty 
take on the familiar trad-country blues 
aesthetic. 'The Cave' is an almost choral 
sing-along that lifts your spirit into the air 
with its roaring crescendo, as gracefully 
as an eagle taking flight. 

Motel Motel 

Coffee (The Rebel Group) 

You need a place to bed down? How 
about a conveniently located motel? Sod 
the caffeine though - Motel Motel sound 
like the sort that prefer the bittersweet taste 
of vino. "Maybe it's that bottle of wine, " 
they grunt, coarsely as newly lacquered 
nails down a freshly chalked blackboard. 
Note: this is not necessarily a bad thing. 


Future Primitive (Memphis Industries) 

With string arrangements reminiscent of 
an age-old MGM film, 'Future Primitive' 
is out to reposition retro. It's the Sixties as 
rerecorded by Martin Hannett, courtesy of 
San Franciscan based Jason Robert Quever. 

Efterklang and The Danish 
National Chamber Orchestra 

Frida Found A Friend (The Leaf Label) 

As this Danish five-piece whisper lyrics into 
your ear, dissonant noise creeps up on you 
from behind like shadowed shapes in a 
poorly lit back-alley. These aforementioned 
scamps could become your life-long love - 
but it's just as likely those dreamy voices 
could be describing a nightmare. . . 

David Thomas Broughton 

Unmarked Grave (Plug Research) 

DavidThomas Broughton is the best thing 
to come out of Yorkshire since Pontefract 
cakes. On 'Unmarked Grave', he sings in 
the voice of a martyr, evoking sonic images 
equalling aTitian Biblical scene. At eight 
minutes, it sprawls some, but ride it out until 
the end and you'll be greeted with a frenzied 
religious denouement. Massacre, anyone? 

Explosions In The Sky 

The Birth And Death Of The Day 
(Bella Union) 

Distortion, tambourines and riffs, as EITS's 
fuzzy cacophony draws us to a close. But is 
this dawn or dusk, the end or the beginning? 

plan b 1 83 



New Album Out 22 nd June 
Featuring Cotopaxi 


AVi":ii."ihl-' Ql"l 


itu nes . corn/tti ernarsvotla